As the Heartbleed bug causes security concerns across the internet, we look back over a few decades worth of viruses and trojans – from misleading Pokemon to messages of universal peace, here are some of the strangest and most ridiculous security threats the internet has ever seen.
Arriving via email with the subject line “ILOVEYOU” and an attachment called "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs", victims could hardly be forgiven for thinking they had a genuine, if slightly-too-forward secret admirer. They would live to regret their curiosity, as the virus deleted all image and audio files before forwarding itself to everyone in their e-mail inbox. The total cost of the virus was about $10 billion - a high price for lonely hearts.
One of the more thoughtful viruses was the MacMag virus, created by editor and publisher of MacMag Richard Brandow. After delivering its hopeful message of world peace (but exclusively for Mac users!) it kindly deleted itself from the host computer. The virus’ effect on international conflict remains unknown.
Designed in 1971, all the way back before the term ‘virus’ was even coined, Creeper is acknowledged as the first computer virus, simply displaying the above text. A program called Reaper was designed to remove the pest, but some say he’s still lurking out there somewhere.
The Pikachu virus was the first to aim its sights directly at children. In stilted English (what do you expect from a creature that spends its existence reciting its own name) the little yellow fellow asks the child to remember him always. Though designed to delete crucial Windows files from hard drives, the virus mistakenly asked permission before doing so. How considerate...
Created in 1987 by a student from New Zealand, this virus would cause the phrase “Your PC is now Stoned!” to appear, with “Legalise Marijuana” found in the code. Its other effects rendered your computer hungry, sluggish and paranoid.
Skulls Trojan Horse
This was the first Trojan to exclusively target mobiles. It boarded Nokias during 2004, raising the Jolly Rodger and claiming a number of vital applications as booty. Rumours spread that soaking your phone in rum overnight would reclaim it from these unwelcome invaders.
Created in Japan in 2010, this virus replaces files with thousands and thousands of images of this cute red squid. Disguising itself as a music file, it infected between 20,000 and 50,000 computers through file-sharing networks. Because if your files are going to be destroyed, it may as well be by something adorable.
One of the more festive viruses that one could hope for, Happy99 opened a window with a fireworks display and the caption “Happy New Year 1999.” Quite innocuous compared to the Y2K panic of the next new year.
This retro-styled virus was created at the University of Turin in 1988. Half an hour after booting from an infected floppy disk (there’s a throwback!), a ping pong ball would appear, bouncing across the screen. Sounds quite soothing really.
Perhaps the most important virus of all was the one used to destroy the alien mothership in 'Independence Day'. Who knew that humanity would be saved by the contents of a single floppy-disk? Jeff Goldblum, that’s who!