Computer viruses are scary, but they don’t always sound it – often their names are misleadingly bland or deceptive. The I Love You virus wreaked havoc in banks and security companies at the turn of the millennium despite its happy name, while the ho-hum-named Stuxnet was the latest advance in nuclear arms sabotage. But some viruses are exactly as scary as they sound. In honor of Halloween, here are a few of this latter, aptly named variety:
BooNana: Windows has historically been targeted by virus makers far more than Apple’s operating systems, but the spooky BooNana, first found in 2010, was among the first in a new wave of viruses that targeted PCs and Macs alike. BooNana tricks users into downloading a Java plugin, identifies which type of system is operating, then installs itself to promptly hijack user’s social media accounts. Even scarier? Such viruses are becoming the norm.
Code Red: Code Red, and the Code Red II successor that came fast on the original’s heels, weren’t your average single-system virus when they turned up in 2001: These complex worms were designed to cause widespread crashes of Windows systems – among them, that of the White House, which was one of their targets.
Beast: Once activated, this 2002 doozy of a Trojan could replicate itself into multiple directories, allowing it to copy or delete files, steal passwords and crash systems. But the creepiest part of Beast was a chat feature that enabled attackers to communicate with users.
MyDoom: This 2004 menace still goes down as the fastest-spreading mass mailer worm of all time. Spread primarily by email attachment, it resent itself to email addresses in users’ address books once it was downloaded and racked up $38 billion worth of damage.
The Creeper: An oldie and definitely not a goodie. First designed in 1971, this was actually an experimental program that proved previous computer communication theories true. It would look for other systems on the same network, transfer to them, then display the message “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!,” before transferring again. That was as malicious as The Creeper got, but over 40 years later it is widely recognized as the first computer virus.