Great Computer Viruses of the Past

The other day I jumped on YouTube to look up some videos on raspberry pi projects. I was about to finish typing in my search when I noticed one of the recommended videos.

I typically try to avoid even glancing at these videos if I can help it, because they are usually distracting. As a security and privacy enthusiast, I’m not a very big fan of anything that has to do with Google, but in this case I have to admit – the YouTube algorithm knows me well. It knows what I like and it knows what I want to watch, even before I do.

The video caught my eye because it was the only one on the panel that didn’t have a thumbnail of some kind of tiny development board or other equally intricate little circuit board.

Instead, the thumbnail showed an image of a desktop with 3 small windows open to a website featuring three smiley faces and the mantra, “You are an idiot!” displayed lovingly above them.

The title of the video was: Trojan.JS.YouAreAnIdiot

This awoke some dormant memories of high school, when I had managed to contract a similar looking virus to our family’s only working desktop computer, most likely via Kazaa, or LimeWire, or whatever p2p network kids were using at the time to download illegal music, games, and videos. (Not that I ever did anything illegal of course… Obviously…)

After watching the video I started thinking about some of the great computer viruses of the past. As someone who is trying to break in to the information security realm, learning more about the exploits of the past seemed like a worthy detour from my usual routine of tinkering with the raspberry pi for an evening.

I wanted to gain a greater perspective of the evolution of viruses through the ages, so I decided to research some previously popular methods of infection. That’s when I stumbled across The Malware Wiki.

The Malware Wiki contains over 1600 pages of documentation and historical detail about various malware from the past. It’s a great resource to learn about the history of security and hacking. It’s complete with code examples and handy links to definitions of terms you may not know… (Last night I learned what “fork bomb” is.)

I was so excited after discovering this resource that I spent several hours exploring different links and reading about old viruses. I recommend anyone interested in security go check it out. It’s still a work in progress, but the work done so far has been extensive and carefully curated. The site’s look and design could use a little upgrade but I’ve never built anything on Fandom so I’m not sure how limited they are as far as presentation goes. That was my only real critique of the site. Other than that the content is great and there’s a lot that can be learned from historical hackers.