October 22, 2022 Fall 2022
In the lead-up to An Artist’s History of Computer Viruses and Malware this fall, I'm going to share some of my favorite historical viruses.
We'll start off this thread with Lichen, a DOS virus from the 80s. After infecting your computer, Lichen would hide a cool fungal-inspired animation that would play if you didn't touch your keyboard for a minute.Screenshot from Lichen, from a video by the amazing danooct1.
ANIMAL PERVADE, a self-replicating program created by John Walker in 1975 to remotely update his animal guessing game. "...a 'classic Trojan Horse attack'. In 1975, when I thought of it, I just called it 'a neat idea'.” Full story here.John Walker in 1975.
Biennalle.py, a virus created by Eva and Franco Mattes and the hacker group Epidemic for the 2001 Venice Biennale. It spread (harmlessly) around the world after release, and was displayed as two machines infecting and disinfecting each other. Learn moreBienalle.py installed at the 49th Venice Biennale.
Rensenware (2017), a joke ransomware (or conceptual artwork?) that encrypts all of the files on the victim's computer until they attain an extremely high score in the magical girl anime bullet hell game Touhou Seirensen ~ Undefined Fantastic Object.Screenshot from Rensenware’s main window.
And we'll end on the Mirai Botnet. This virus exploited a vulnerability in Internet of Things devices to create one of the largest botnets ever, which was then used to DDoS popular Minecraft servers and extort them for protection money. Truly a wild story.Screenshot from the Mirai Botnet.