Is this really art? Laptop infested with the world‘s most dangerous viruses including WannaCry ransomware that crippled computers in 74 countries sells for £1 million at auction

Artwork made up of the world‘s most dangerous computer viruses on an old Windows XP laptop has sold for £1 million ($1.3m) at auction. 

This is a fraction of the estimates for the total of the damages done by the viruses, which crippled 74 countries and are believed to stand at £74.4 billion ($95bn).

The six viruses include the famous WannaCry ransomware that hit the in 2017,  as well as ILOVEYOU, MyDoom, DarkTequila, SoBig and Blackenergy.

They are so  dangerous that the Windows laptop they infest has been quarantined in an ‘air-gapped‘ environment, analogous to the air gap used in plumbing to maintain water quality.

That means the device‘s internet functionality and connectivity ports including it‘s network socket and USB slots are disabled so that the viruses can never escape. 

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The art piece, known as the ‘Persistence of Chaos‘, was created by internet artist Guo O Dong in collaboration with cybersecurity company Deep Instinct to make the artwork safe.

The laptop is a Samsung NC10-14GB 10.2-Inch (26cm) Blue Netbook released in 2008, according to his website. 

It is running Windows XP SP3 operating system software and comes with a power cord, the official description says. 

The screen size is 10.3 x 1.2 x 7.3 inches (26 x 3 x 19 cm) and the laptop weighs 2.8lbs (1.27kg).

Writing on the website, its creator Mr Dong said: ‘The malwares of The Persistence of Chaos have caused over $95 billion dollars‘ worth of damage, simply because businesses weren‘t prepared for attacks they haven‘t seen before.‘  

The artwork is currently being broadcast live 24 hours a day on The Persistence of Chaos‘ website. 

‘The piece is isolated and ‘airgapped‘ to prevent against spread of the malware‘, says the description under the 24 hour streaming video.   

Among the six viruses is ILOVEYOU hit PCs in 2000, and is thought to have affected more than 500,000 systems via email and file sharing services.

MyDoom, a computer worm dating back to 2004 is also on the machine, as well as SoBig, DarkTequila and BlackEnergy.

Mr Guo, the creator of the piece, told The that the work is intended to give abstract threats a physical meaning, serving as ‘a kind of bestiary – a catalogue of historical threats‘.

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‘We have this fantasy that things that happen in computers can‘t actually affect us, but this is absurd.

‘Weaponized viruses that affect power grids or public infrastructure can cause direct harm,‘ he said. 

The online auction closed with a final bid of £1 million ($1.3m) for the laptop which is currently sitting in New York.

WHAT IS THE PERSISTENCE OF CHAOS? 

Persistence of Chaos is a piece of art that for £1 million ($1.3million) at auction in May 2019. 

A Windows XP-powered laptop holds the world‘s most dangerous computer viruses all in one place. 

The machine with the viruses is has its internet capabilities and available ports disabled to prevent the malware from being spread. 

The six viruses are: 

ILOVEYOU

The ILOVEYOU virus, distributed via email and file sharing, affected 500,000+ systems and caused £12bn ($15bn) in damages total, with £4.34bn ($5.5bn) in damages being caused in the first week.

MyDoom

MyDoom, potentially commissioned by Russian e-mail spammers, was one of the fastest spreading worms. It‘s projected that this virus caused (£30bn) $38bn in damages.

SoBig

SoBig was a worm and trojan that circulated through emails as viral spam. This piece of malware could copy files, email itself to others, and could damage computer software/hardware. This piece of malware caused £29bn ($37bn) in damages and affected hundreds of thousands of PCs.

WannaCry

WannaCry was an extremely virulent ransomware cryptoworm that also set up backdoors on systems. The attack affected 200,000+ computers across 150 countries, and caused the NHS $100M in damages with further totals accumulating close to £3.16bm ($4bn).

DarkTequila

A sophisticated and evasive piece of malware that targeted users mainly in Latin America, DarkTequila stole bank credentials and corporate data even while offline. DarkTequila costed millions in damages across many users.

BlackEnergy

BlackEnergy 2 uses sophisticated rootkit/process-injection techniques, robust encryption, and a modular architecture known as a ‘dropper‘. BlackEnergy was used in a cyberattack that prompted a large-scale blackout in Ukraine in December 2015.  

 

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