Planes and navigation systems aren’t the only targets of hijack software. Your proverbial cockpit of computers and mobile devices are also susceptible. Read our list of the most malicious hacks below, and learn what you can do to protect yourself against hijack software.
Hijacking is quite a lucrative past time. The users and creators of hijack software can gain unfettered access to bank accounts, online wallets, credit cards, personal identities, airline passenger and navigation systems, and so much more. They can even hold crucial files like hospital health information hostage, and refuse to release them until a ransom is paid. If the ransom isn’t paid, they usually threaten file deletion. Even if they don’t delete the hostage files, the mere threat of losing such vital information is enough to fray anyone’s nerves.
The problem with hijack software isn’t the fact that it has been used to hack computers in the past; it’s that its creation and use is on the rise, yet there are still people out there operating computers without any protection whatsoever.
The bottom line is, without antivirus protection and other security measures, any-and-everyone’s computer is at risk of a hijack like any of the ones discussed in the following list: The Hijack Hall of Fame.
Hijack Software on Display: Seven of the Most Dangerous Security Exploits
There are so many malicious, hijack programs out there, it is fruitless to try to name them all. But naming them all is not the point of this article in the first place. The true goal of this article is to highlight some of the most malicious and destructive hijacks that have ever cruised up and down the Information Highway. Here are what we consider the seven most dangerous hijacks, in order of economic damage inflicted:
Mydoom. This hijack software and its variants—including MydoomB and Doomjuice—is estimated to have cost over $38.5 billion dollars across 215 countries. The Mydoom worm sprouted to life on January 26, 2004 and was hailed as the fastest spreading email worm since the ILOVEYOU virus.
Mydoom would appear in unsuspecting emails as an email transmission error. Once a user clicked on the message’s attachment, it would self-invoke and spread itself throughout peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, and among the contacts of a user’s address book. This catastrophic worm destroyed close to two million personal computers.
Sasser. This destructive little worm also debuted in 2004 and ended up hijacking hospitals, airlines, news agencies, public transportation and more! It did not bother with email programs, but instead trolled and attacked random IP addresses, and even sought out vulnerable computers that it then would hijack and instruct to download the virus. Sasser would go on to affect over one million personal computers and amass over $18 billion dollars in damage.
ILoveYou. Also known as “The Love Bug” virus, this was a standalone worm created in May of 2000—supposedly as part of an undergraduate thesis—that was capable of replicating itself as it wreaked havoc on tens of millions of computers across the globe.
ILoveYou traveled the Internet via email, enticing recipients with the flattering subject line “I Love You,” as if someone had sent them a love letter. In the body of the email, an attachment called “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs” further enticed recipients to give love a try. The moment the attachment was opened, the virus would quickly exploit Windows’ address book by emailing itself to its first 50 available contacts. Techworm.net claims this hijack software caused damage amounting to $10 billion while affecting nearly a tenth of nodes on the World Wide Web.
Conficker. This clever little duck-and-dodge hijack program of “malware techniques” first made its appearance on November 21, 2008. We call it a duck-and-dodge because it’s a worm with a bag full of tricks that allow it to evade easy detection. In other words, it was (and still is) a lot like a REAL virus, morphing and changing when it needs to.
According to WeLiveSecurity.com, Conficker not only lacked a command and control (C&C) server, but an actual pattern. It would seamlessly change and spread by way of network shares and USB drives, or self-invoke to target defenseless and vulnerable machines. Conficker targets Microsoft Windows vulnerabilities, and has devastated 11 million home, business and government computers in over 190 countries.
Total damage: Conflicker is said to have cost $9 billion+ dollars and counting, because the malware has never been fully neutralized.
WannaCry. This hijack software is a lot more recent than many of the others on this list. It made its debut in May 7, 2017, and, according to TotalDefense.com, amplified the scope and impact of ransomware.
WannaCry has hijacked computers across 150 countries. It holds files hostage, encrypts sensitive data, and then demands a ransom of $300 in bitcoins. If the payment isn’t forked over within three days, the ransom doubles to $600. If a week passes with no payment, the good-hearted folks at WannaCry will begin to delete the ransomed files. The National Health Service of the United Kingdom, FedEx US and automobile factories in France are just a few of its notable targets.
The total financial loss caused by WannaCry is difficult to pinpoint. Some experts say WannaCry did not make much money because it was identified and neutralized by antivirus and security measures early on. Others estimate that it may end up costing a whopping $8 billion in ransom money.
CodeRed. This curious little hijack program debuted in 2001. It proved to be “malware with a twist” in that it didn’t need an email attachment to activate or invoke an infection. All it needed was an active Internet connection and the virus was good to go. It ruined whatever page the Internet surfer happened to open, greeting the surfer with the words: “Hacked by the Chinese!” Total damage: This virus hit nearly one million PCs and did at least $2.6 billion dollars damage.
Melissa.This hijack software accomplished what many humans can’t even do in a lifetime: It became the breaking news across the world on March 26, 1999. The virus was built by David L. Melissa and was spread via an email attachment with the simple name: “list.doc.” The millisecond (well, maybe not quite that fast, but fast!) the attachment was opened, the virus headed straight for Microsoft Outlook and promptly emailed itself to the first 50 people in that address book. It would leave the recipients a message that said, “Here is that document you asked for…don’t show anyone else. ;-).” This seemingly sweet little virus is said to have done $80 million dollars in damage in North America, and approximately $1.1 billion worldwide. Approximately 100,000 computers were infected and 300 organizations reported infections.
Other Catastrophic Hijack Programs
As mentioned, the above list of horrific hijack software is what WE consider some of the worst of all time. Others in the tech world may beg to differ. Nimda, Slammer, StormWorm, Stuxnet, and CryptoLocker did not make our list, yet they are also considered to have been some of the worst computer viruses out there.
Protecting against Hijack Software: We All Need Antivirus Protection
If you have not yet been hijacked by malware, you may think you have cleverly avoided yet another expense in this all-too-expensive world in which we live. But the truth is, browsing and working on the Internet with malware is like asking to be annihilated off the face of the earth (in this case, the World Wide Web).
In our article entitled Types of Malware, we provided a list of five of popular antivirus programs out there for your safety and convenience. Additional antivirus apps are worth listing here:
- McAfee Total Protection
- Norton Security Deluxe
- Webroot CyberSecurity
- AvastPro Antivirus
Whatever you do, choose something. If not, your computer or device may become the next victim of a virus so sinister that it is inducted into the Hijack Hall of Fame.