Our computers have been a battleground for viruses and those tasked with destroying them. Today we look back at eight of these viruses that have changed the face of computer security. So sit back and run a quick scan on your PC just to make sure that you’re safe.

In 1999 the virus Melissa was released upon the world by David L. Smith (pictured above). This malicious piece of code is a mass-mailing macro virus was actually created by hackers VicodinES and ALT-F11. Melissa would be included in an email, and once opened would email itself to fifty people from your e-mail address book. While this didn’t take down any sites, it did cause some companies to discontinue their email programs til the virus was quarantined.

The ILOVEYOU virus hit the internet in 2000, it was a worm that would get onto your computer through the user opening an attachment in an email titled LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs. To be fair who wouldn’t be interested in a love letter, I mean how often have you gotten a love letter? Never? Now just imagine you opening your email and discovering that someone did love you, wouldn’t you open that up? Well if you could find a way to rationalize downloading this virus you would have had your passwords stolen and sent to the hacker’s email address.

In late 2001 the world saw the release of the Klez virus. This wormy little virus would infect your computer through your email and then distribute itself to others through your email client. The issue that plagued many is that it would steal a name from your address book and put that name into the “From” field, which would make others more likely to open an email since it was from a friendly name. It gets worse, the virus would disable virus scanning software and act as if it were a virus removal tool, thus making it very very deceptive and hard to nail down.

The Nimda virus (get it, Admin spelled backwards) attacked the internet in 2001. This worm mainly focused on servers, and not so much the home PC. It’s primary job was to slow the internet to a crawl, which it did perfectly. After it initially hit the net it took a total of 22 minutes before it reached the top of the list of the reported attacks, according to TruSecure.

The SQL Slammer, or Sapphire to its friends, was a virus aimed at web servers. This particular virus took down the Bank of America’s ATM service, Continental Airlines had to cancel a flights, and worse than that it took down the 911 service for the city of Seattle. This all added up to causing more than a billion dollars in damage.

The virus named MyDoom first made its way to the intertubes in 2004. It’s rumored that MyDoom was actually a worm commissioned by e-mail spammers to get their junk mail sent through the infected computers. Even creepier the worm contains the text message “andy; I’m just doing my job, nothing personal, sorry.” Although others believe that it was actually a DDoS against the SCO Group, because of the group’s stance against Linux.

Sasser and Netsky were created by Sven Jaschan in 2004. These two worms infected Delta Air Lines and the news agency Agence France-Presse by swamping their computer systems. In the end Sven was sold out by his friend, it helps that Microsoft put out a bounty of $250,000 for information. The even bigger issue is the fact that both of these spawned almost thirty variants, making it very hard to track and delete from the system it had infected.

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Talk to any Mac user and they’ll go on and on about how there aren’t any viruses for the Mac. Next time you encounter them, just remind them of Oompa-Loompa worm. This LAN spreading worm was specifically for the Mac OS X, it made its way around through local area networks making it bypass all of that pesky internet. The biggest issue associated with this virus is that applications infected with Oompa-Loompa will not launch, although the side effect of this is actually helpful in that it stops people from starting up the infected program and spreading it even further.

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