5 More Viruses from The Early Days of The Internet

10 Sept 2023

We’re back with another look at some more interesting computer viruses.

In this article we discussed some of the more famous computer viruses that caused chaos in the early days of the internet. In today’s article, we’ll be looking at 5 more that were well known at the time but didn’t make it on our original list.
Your PC is now….Stoned? Source: Wiki

1. Stoned Virus (1987, New Zealand)
A boot sector virus, Stoned makes the list due to the fact it’s author to this day, has not been identified. Created in 1987 and first observed in both New Zealand and Australia, this DOS based virus ended up having over 90 different variants and ended up proliferating worldwide.
Spreading via infected disks, Stoned shone light on the dangers of shared media, in particular the 360KB IBM floppy disc.

Stoned made a later appearance in the early 2000’s when the signature of the virus was uploaded into the bitcoin blockchain. This caused an alert in MS Security Essentials which prompted a fix from Microsoft, preventing deletion and quarantining of the blockchain.

Norton warning for Chernobyl. Source: Wikipedia.

2. CIH / Chernobyl (1998, Taiwan)
Originating in Taiwan and targeting windows 9.X systems, CIH infected over 60 million systems worldwide causing an estimated 35 million USD in damage. Targeting disc drives, CIH was extremely destructive over writing critical information and in some instances destroying the bios of infected machines.

Like the creator of Melissa, the writer of CIH provided an anti virus program to assist in damage mitigation and co operated with authorities, reducing the reach of the virus. Due to no laws existing in Taiwan regarding computer interference, the writer of CIH faced no legal repercussions.

CIH makes the list due to the fact that new IBM Aptiva machines actually shipped with this virus pre installed, causing an explosion of cases in 1999.

Kakworm Modifications: Source: Wikipedia

3. KAKworm (1999, Unknown)
Released in 1999, KAKworm was a Javascript worm that was able to spread by exploiting Microsoft Outlook.

Making it’s presence known on the first of each month, the worm would trigger a shutdown using SHUTDOWN.EXE whilst displaying the message “Kagou-anti-Kro$oft says not today!”.
Kakworm was reasonably sophisticated for the time, enabling a spread of up to 50 people via outlook address books as well as modifying the boot sector of the infected machine to ensure the virus would load on startup.

While the author of KAKworm remains unknown, it’s makes our list due to the fact the virus exploited two programs to succeed. Microsoft Outlook, as well as Internet Explorer.

Back Orifice Logo. Source: Wikipedia.

4. Back Orifice (1999, USA)
Originating in 1999, Back Orifice was a play on Microsoft’s Back Office Server Software. A complete Command and Control system, Back Orifice was designed by US hackers at the 1998 Defcon Conference.

Using a client — server architecture, the program actually has legitimate uses, namely Remote Administration however the program is more commonly used for exploitation purposes.

Due to being designed at Defcon, anti virus response was fast with it being immediately classified as Malware and being added to anti virus quarantine lists.

The program would face further evolution, with Back Orifice 2000 being released. Both programs were suited for Trojan Horse delivery methods as they required no user interaction to run successfully.

Because of this, this one makes our list due to the fact that it’s simplistic GUI based system made it a useful to script kiddie hackers the world over.

5. MyDoom (2004, Russia)
The youngest on today’s list, MyDoom was first observed in 2004 after infected messages originating in Russia started to spread.

Targeting windows based systems, the virus was able to infect over 50 million machines, and even had the dubious honor of knocking google’s search engine offline for a short while.
Using infected computers to send spam / junk emails, the worm spread extremely quickly, with the internet compatibility of the worm ensuring it was able to spread across systems with little resistance. The virus also targeted the decentralized nature of Peer to Peer (p2p) systems, using Kazaa to spread.

However for unknown reasons, the virus failed to target many domains ending in .edu with Rutgers, MIT and Berkley all appearing to avoid infection.

Mydoom makes our list due to the fact it is still seen in systems to this day and the author of the virus has never been identified. In fact, nearly 2% of email traffic today consists of

MyDoom infections. A noteable achievement for a near 20 year old computer worm. It also holds the record to date, for the fastest spreading virus in history.

Lastly, like the Stoned Virus, Mydoom made one late appearance in 2009 when it was used in cyber attacks conducted against South Korea and the USA.

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The early days of the internet were a wild and uncharted frontier, and it's fascinating to look back at the viruses that emerged during that time. These digital pests were pioneers in their own right, exploring the vulnerabilities of a nascent online world. While they may have caused headaches and frustration for many, they also pushed the boundaries of cybersecurity and prompted the development of essential defenses against cyber threats. Reflecting on these five viruses from the early internet days is a reminder of how far we've come in protecting our digital spaces and data. It's a testament to the relentless innovation of both malicious actors and cybersecurity experts, a never-ending battle that continues to shape the internet as we know it today.
@Investigator515 The days when viruses were more of a novelty than a threat are gone. The infamous “I Love You” and “Melissa” remind us how the viruses have evolved. As we’ve moved from normal prank viruses to sophisticated cyber threats like ransomware and cryptojacking, it’s clear that cybersecurity is no longer optional. Keep up the excellent work; your articles are always great! 💡💡💡💡
I remember of MyDoom
it remind me when I was young
Oh Stoned.. gawd that takes me back. Saw a few stoned computers in my day. Which was a long time ago now.
There was a virus that hacked government PCs in the U.K such that they hackers demanded Bitcoin or they would destroy government data, it had a funny name - WannaCry
Nice article thanks
Thanks for sharing this content. 👏🖐👏
I have no idea what possesses people to do this sort of thing but they have skills so why do they not do something good with those skills instead.
I thought I saw a similar article like this on BULBapp
First comes the virus, then comes the vaccine...
Ah, the nostalgia of the early days of the internet! It's fascinating to look back and remember those viruses that once wreaked havoc on our digital playground. While technology has come a long way, these historical viruses serve as a reminder of how crucial cybersecurity measures have become in today's interconnected world. It's a testament to the resilience of both technology and the people who work tirelessly to keep our digital spaces safe.
An interesting article
Gary Cartlidge
It's gonna get much worse. It's just growth long term