You Are Missing These Things – WIF Simple Pleasures

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The Modern World

Has Robbed You

of These

Simple Pleasures

There are a lot of great things about the modern world, including instant communication, a wealth of amazing entertainment options, access (depending on your part of the world) to some of the best healthcare in history, and the ability to travel all over the world at incredible speeds that our ancestors would have found mind-boggling. However, all good things also have their downsides, and there are some negatives to our modern conveniences that we often don’t think too much about, sometimes because the modern convenience has hidden some past joys entirely from our view. In today’s article, we will go over 10 examples of this phenomenon.

10. An Unobstructed View Of The Night Sky

It used to be that most people could look up at the night sky and see an absolutely stunning vista. You could see a multitude of colored stars, and you could certainly imagine how your ancient ancestors could have once gazed up at that same sky, and imagined all the various powers that have been attributed to them in the past. Now, however, the modern world has largely taken that joy away from us. Due to light pollution, you often have to travel a good days drive from what some would call “civilization” in order to get a proper view of the night sky. Sometimes 50 miles or so can get you a decent view in one direction, but it is rarely going to get you a fully proper 360 degree view, unless you already live in an an area that’s relatively remote.

And even if you can get all the way to those few spots left, you will still have satellites, planes and other flying objects drifting through your view, and polluting the once pristine view of the night sky. While planes and all the city lights give us great convenience, there is an absolutely stunning view hiding right in plain sight, that most of us will live our entire lives never getting to see.

9. Leisurely, Peaceful Meals, With Time To Talk And Digest Our Food

Now, while some countries still take time to linger over meals for the sake of tradition (such as France and Greece), many other major powers such as the UK and the USA eat much quicker. An International Economic Study by the OECD Think Tank found that the United States spent about one hour total on average per day on meals, the UK only about one hour and 19 minutes, and the French, on average, spent two hours and 13 minutes on combined mealtimes, making them the most leisurely with their meals. The industrial revolution has made the world move incredibly fast, and people in many countries just find themselves spending less and less time eating food as the world becomes faster paced and they have to keep going quickly to survive.

It has been well established for some time that there is a strong link between weight gain and eating far too quickly, which is what makes this modern trend alarming. As people eat quicker and quicker in order to keep up with the fast paced modern world, they don’t take the time to properly digest their food, which makes it far easier to overeat. And of course, overeating is a huge contributor to obesity, and other serious weight gain related health problems.

8. Seeing A Phone Number We Don’t Recognize, And Not Being Afraid To Answer 

Phone calls have certainly gotten more advanced over the years, and even most of the older generation tends to agree that advances like caller ID, voicemail, and the like were really good ideas that made things a lot better. However, all the same, it used to be a lot more normal to answer a phone call from a number you didn’t recognize, without actually expecting some kind of devilry. Unfortunately, telephone scams are numerous and make up a staggering percentage of calls, so much that the telecoms and the FCC are trying to work to find a way to bring an end to it, or at least cut it down in a large way in the short term.

Elderly people often get fooled by scam calls the most, but the scammers, trying to find someone to steal from, will target anyone they can get to answer the phone for a little while, and will try to trick important financial details out of people. Now, no one really wants to answer a number they don’t recognize, as they are almost expecting it to be a scam caller of some kind, and with text, Facebook messenger and Snapchat, people tend to just communicate through those mediums in some way or another, and don’t bother to talk for more than a few minutes. The days of people simply calling and having a chat, or being able to answer an unknown number without paranoia, are mostly gone.

7. The Ability To “Go Offline” For A While Without Severe Anxiety

It used to be that before the internet and smartphones changed the world, people had to talk to each other, read a book or engage their hands in something perhaps a little more productive. At the very least, when spending time with someone else, they generally had to do something with them and make conversation. Now, however, people will spend hours hanging out staring at their phones, occasionally showing the other person a funny meme and making sure their phone is charged at all times.

And it is certainly a useful tool to have, but it has become an entertainment crutch for many people for any sort of boredom, and has become such a part of us that many people now get anxious and upset if they don’t have their phone on them or have it charged. According to a study by researchers from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, roughly three quarters of young adults suffered anxiety like twitching, or even scratching when observed for research purposes without their smartphones.

6. Delayed Gratification Is Something A Lot Of Even Older People Are Forgetting 

It used to be that you had to wait for certain times for your TV shows to be on, but now anyone can typically just binge their favorite shows without bothering to even wait for commercial breaks, which means even many of the older generation are forgetting the joy of delayed gratification. Across all generations, whether it is a self-scan at the grocery store or a second drive thru lane at McDonald’s, we are all being trained to hate waiting for more than a few seconds.

No matter what the generation, people in developed countries seem to have become less and less willing to wait for anything, and this likely isn’t good for any of us overall. The evidence for this goes back to the famous Marshmallow study, conducted by Stanford professor Walter Mischel in the 1960s. He offered children a marshmallow, but told them if they could wait while the researchers were out of the room, they would get a second marshmallow. As you can imagine, some of the children went ahead and just ate the marshmallow, while others resisted the temptation. After following them for 40 years, the numbers showed better success at SATs and the like, and less issues with stress and substance abuse, among those who had waited to gain that second marshmallow. This suggests that delayed gratification is a very useful tool for success in life.

5. Learning A New Hobby (And Impressing Our Friends And Feeling Super Cool About It)

While this isn’t something we have lost entirely, there is a certain magic that is definitely gone, due to the ubiquity of the internet. Before the ability for everyone in the world to instantly record and upload anything they do, it actually took some exploring and discovering to get the information you needed for a brand new hobby, and then, once you actually figured it all out — or at least the basics of it — you were usually the only one any of your friends knew who could do something quite like that, at least at first (if it doesn’t catch on with others around you).

However, now we really have lost that simple happiness, as people have become so incredibly jaded. It isn’t as hard to get into a new hobby anymore, as you can find a billion tips on the internet, easy starter kits for everything, and a ton of people who can do it a lot better than you. And of course, it’s right at the fingertips of your friends, too. While they may still be somewhat impressed to see someone do it live, and encourage you as their friend, it certainly won’t wow them as much when they can go online and immediately find someone who can do it a million times better than you can, who has been doing it for years. It also can make it hard to keep up with your hobby when it’s so easy to compare yourself to actual experts, and feel discouraged at how long it takes you to reach that level. The internet has sort of ruined us. (Except this site, of course — keep reading this site, guys!)

4. Being Able To Relax Away From Unnatural Or Industrial Noises 

It really wasn’t that long ago, back before the industrial revolution, when we had a much more peaceful world (with regard to noise pollution and, well, regular pollution). There were no big factories belching smoke. You go back a little longer and we didn’t even have trains. No WiFi, constant radio communication, internet, or satellites, and no planes constantly flying overhead. All the sound pollution, both audible to the human ear and not, was almost entirely non-existent just a few hundred years ago, but now there is almost no escape from it. And while you have to go out of the way, you can get a mostly unobstructed view of the night sky if you travel far enough (although you will still see planes and such), but it is a much more difficult issue when it comes to noise.

Researchers who have tried to find any quiet spots on earth have only found spots that are temporarily quiet from unnatural sounds. No matter how far you go, at the very least, the occasional airplane will fly by and ruin the natural soundscape you were trying to enjoy. Planes may be convenient, but there are tens of thousands of flights every day, and the sound from them constantly soaring through the sky has made every corner of the globe a site for intermittent noise pollution.

3. Waking Up To Natural Circadian Rhythms Is An Almost Non-Existent Privilege 

It used to be we just kind of went to bed and got up based on our natural alarm clock, but electronic aids now wake the world up. This is also kind of necessary now, because almost no one goes to bed shortly after sundown, or gets up at sunrise anymore. The privilege of simply going to bed like everyone else does, and knowing the whole world has pretty much the same schedule and will be waiting for you when you get up, is gone.

Now we go to bed at all sorts of weird hours, sometimes for only brief snatches, and many types of workers have schedules where shifts change throughout the week, leaving their poor bodies even more confused. On top of that, many are so trapped by social media, that even waking up for a brief moment, they have to check their feed — this kind of behavior is not good for our sleep patterns.

2. There Is Now No Escape From Shocking, Horrible And Grotesquely Sensational News 

With the ubiquity of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, we now have access to news from any corner of the world at all times and a corresponding need to fill air space. While you’ll see the occasional positive human interest story, the news is mostly dominated by the worst of the worst, and because of such instant, worldwide, mass communication, no editor has any trouble filling their entire news block with a stream of horrific goings on.

No longer are the days when the news could simply only find so much negative to give you, and wasn’t going to be on 24 hours a day regardless, so at least you got a break. For some people this puts them in a quandary, as they feel as a responsible person they should keep up with the news, but it can be hard to filter out the important things from the constant horror. No matter how important you think it is to keep up with it, you may want to be careful about your consumption. Multiple replicated studies have found that people who viewed negative news broadcasts have more anxiety afterwards, and are more likely to start talking at length about things that worry them, and make them out in their heads to be something far bigger than they are.

1. The Constant Fear Of A Lawsuit Over Everything Has Left Us All On Edge 

In the news over the past several years, we’ve seen a steady stream of stories about little kid’s lemonade stands getting shut down by city authorities, with the police sometimes literally coming in and tearing them down. And just recently, the State of Texas passed a law specifically aimed to not make it so impossible for children to run a simple lemonade stand. However, we have to understand that the reason behind the police taking down lemonade stands is not to be mean to children, but due to the way our modern world works. Today, it is not just the US legal system, but also American culture that has become extremely sue-happy.

State laws regarding licenses and permits, which these lemonade stands obviously don’t have, because they are run by children, require you to be inspected and get licensed, because it both protects the public safety, and protects the proprietor from lawsuits. Now of course some may consider it silly to sue a child, because if you get sick drinking lemonade from a child’s stand obviously you understand that you took the risk in your hands. However, if someone got sick, it could potentially open the child’s parent up to a lawsuit, and perhaps the city as well if it could be proven they were negligent in their duty to make sure roadside food stands are properly licensed and inspected for food safety. Whether it is a lemonade stand being smashed to bits by the police, or a parent freaking out at a neighborhood kid climbing their tree (over fear of them potentially falling), the lawsuit-happy culture of the modern world has left America on edge.


You Are Missing These Things –

WIF Simple Pleasures

Life is but a Dream – WIF Computer Simulation

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Reasons Life is

Actually Just

a Computer Simulation

How do we know what reality is? It’s a question that philosophers have been asking for thousands of years. With the advancements in computers, that question has been given an upgrade: what if life is just a computer simulation?

 5. Computers Will Be Powerful Enough

All the way back in 1965, Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, said that the number of microprocessor transistors on circuit boards would double every year. He revised his statement 10 years later, saying it would double every two years.

Today, the amount of transistors isn’t as important as making them smaller, but the theory that computing power essentially doubles every year is still relevant. Several experts in computers find that it doesn’t exactly double, but it’s close.

 If we maintain that rate of advancement, eventually computers will be powerful enough to run reality simulators.

Rich Terrile, a computer expert with NASA, thinks that within 10 years we will have computers that will be able to simulate a human lifetime that lasts about 80 years. It would include every thought that the simulated person ever had, and they wouldn’t know that they were in a simulation. Ergo, it might be possible that is what you’reexperiencing right now. Your life is just a first-person simulation and everything in it

Another possibility is that the universe is a simulation and we’re all characters in it. There have already been several universe simulators, but the most impressive one was performed by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In 2014, they simulated the entire 13 billion year history of the evolution of the universe in just three months.

4. Reality Doesn’t Exist Until We Look at It

Let’s say you’re playing an open world video game, like World of Warcraft orGrand Theft Auto. What happens to an area of the map when no one is there? Nothing, right? It’s only when your character “moves” to that area that the system processes the lines of code creating the environment.

According to quantum mechanics, reality actually works in a very similar way. Subatomic objects that make up the foundation of reality are usually either waves or particles. However, there are some subatomic objects that can be both wave and particle-like. This includes light and objects with mass similar to electrons. When these subatomic objects aren’t being observed or measured they sit in a dual state. Then, when they are measured, for lack of a better word they “decide” whether they’ll be a wave or particle-like. This is unusual because logically, their nature should dictate their state, not whether they are being observed. It also means that the foundations of reality don’t exist until we are looking at it.

Physicists aren’t sure why our observation affects how they “decide,” but it is eerie evidence that reality may not be exactly what we think it is.

3. General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics Reconcile if the World is a Hologram

One of the biggest arguments for the simulation theory is that our universe is actually two-dimensional and the third dimension is simply a hologram created by very thin, vibrating strings. This isn’t a whole lot different than lines of code creating a three-dimensional environment in a video game.

Earlier in 2017, a study was published that showed a two-dimensional world is possible and it would help solve one of the biggest problems in physics: how to reconcile Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics. They are the two dominant theories of physics, but they are at odds with each other. Relativity is great at explaining big things like the expansion of the universe and gravity, while quantum mechanics is how nature works at a tiny level, like how uranium decays. In a three-dimensional world they are incompatible, but in a two-dimensional universe they can be reconciled.

2. Claude Shannon’s Coding

Sylvester James Gates, Jr. is a theoretical physicist who researches stuff like supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory at a level that is nearly impossible for laypeople to understand. We imagine you have to be superpeople to really get them.

Gates said that he was working on superstring equations with adinkras, which are symbols that are used in supersymmetry algebra, and he supposedly found some possible evidence that the basic foundation of our reality may just be made up of coding. In the equations, he found coding from the 1940s that was written by Claude Shannon, who is considered the father of the information age.

Gates says that: “[an] unsuspected connection suggests that these codes may be ubiquitous in nature and could even be embedded in the essence of reality. If [so], we might have something in common with the Matrix science fiction films, which depict a world where every human being’s experience is the product of a virtual reality–generating computer network.”

Trippy, huh?

1. The Odds Aren’t in Our Favor

According to Nick Bostrom of Oxford University, there are only three possible outcomes for human civilization. First, humans will go extinct before creating ancestor simulators. The second possibility is that humans will develop the technology, but for whatever reason, they don’t run many simulations. Both of those outcomes mean life is real and we aren’t living in a simulation.

The third possibility is that there is a good chance we are living in a simulation. It’s considered a good chance because, while it is certainly possible that humans could die off before learning how to build reality simulators, if future humans did create them then they would probably run them because of humanity’s relentless pursuit of knowledge. They could run an infinite amount of simulations, which would contain every thought and action by every being in the universe for the entire life of the universe.

If there is one reality running infinite simulations, then what are the odds that we’re in the one “real” reality, or one of the infinite simulations?


Life is but a Dream

– WIF Computer Simulation

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 140

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 140

CHAPTER SEVEN

Pick a Pew

AL, the computer generated intelligence  continues to develop a personality, like that crazy uncle who gets passed on from one generation of system to the next

Personality by Portus Ojomo

The changes to New Mayflower have been craftily made by the three-man crew, as prescribed by Aldona Afridi, the newly branded NASA SOL Engineer. With that task complete, implementation is being robotically transmitted back to Earth by AL. The computer generated intelligence not only does his programmed functions, but continues to develop a personality, like that crazy uncle who gets passed on from one generation of system to the next. In this case it is from deep-space Chronicle and Space Colony 1 to deep-space New Mayflower, with this continuing incarnation furthering the tradition of doing things that were not programmed.

“Thank you for sending that circuit update to Mission Control, AL, although I was going to call it in myself,” Rick Stanley speaks into thin air and magically communicates with the computer.

“YOU WERE BUSY PREPARING FOR HYPER-SLEEP COMMANDER RICK. I AM PROGRAMMED TO ASSIST YOU TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY.”

The 2nd in command calls to question, When did AL start calling you by your first name?

“He did call me Commander and maybe he calls his programmer papa.”

“WE CAN HEAR YOU TALKING ABOUT US.”

“And now it’s “we” instead of I.”

“We air breathers will be seeing the inside of our eyelids in 15 minutes, forget about AL for now.”

“GOODNIGHT GUYS.”

— Ten million miles go by, accompanied by the “curse” that sleep brings, the garbage can of the human mind called dreams. Some people don’t remember them, while others not only remember them, but in living color to boot. Advanced dreamers can wake up, remember their colorful dream, fall back asleep and pick the storyline where they left off. Still others have recurring nightmares and purposely stay awake, as to wipe their semiconscious slate clean.

Hyper-sleep has been likened to suspended animation, born out of necessity, the need to pass the time on these “short” interplanetary trips, unlike those intra-galactical excursions of the NEWFOUNDLIANS, as long as Earth-space- travelers are bound to the nagging-ly slow sub-light speeds.

Hyperactive is the best way to describe AL, no need for the male-slanted voice of the shuttle fleet main computer system to slumber. AL was intended to be totally interactive, mildly intuitive, and always at the ready. “His” recent First Person reference of “we” is a leap ahead from “I”, implying that his singular function is morphing into one of feeling like he is part of the team.

“Feeling” is the operative term here. Somewhere along the way, perhaps an evolutionary step brought on by the demise of his “brother” aboard the Chronicle, AL must have decided that independent action is necessary for self-preservation.

10 million miles is the equivalent of 2 weeks of space real estate covered and “they” must be ever vigilant.


 THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 140


page 172 + 173

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 133

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 133

Hey buddy, you’re out in real space, you better be prepared for the unknown…

Floating In Unknown by Andrea Banjac

— With the condition of Braden King weighing him down, the well-being of the Space Family McKinney both here and on Mars occupying its regular space, and his unattended new relationship with Francine Bouchette bouncing around the lonely corners of his heart, Roy is forced to put those on back burners to deal with the not-so-clear and present realities that reside in that yawning dark space between the Moon and the Red Planet.

There at the launch facility he can speak directly to Cmdr. Rick Stanley, which is a luxury, considering the fractional parsecs of unknown-ities that surround the situation, “How are you doing young Rick?”

“We are just about ready to hit the hay for a month or so. Without a night and day as guideposts, it has been hard to get any rest at all.”

“I hate to the bearer of bad news, but we will need to put-off your long summer’s nap for a few days; I have a couple of things I need you to do.”

“As long as we get paid overtime… sure thing Boss!”

“I have a meeting with Global 9 Insurance and I’ll see what they cover, but for now I need for you change your heading, enough to take you a couple thousand miles to the right hand side of your flight plan and stick to that course until I tell you to go back to the original.”

“Okay?” The New Mayflower space pilot complies, taking mere seconds to do so. “Are we trying to lose that nagging echo? I know it cannot keep up with our new propulsion system?”

“Good. Now if you check your data banks, you will find a .pdf file named Afridi. Please download it now.”

“Afraid-y? We ain’t scared of nothing out here, ‘cept asteroids and hemorrhoids.”

“a-f-r-i-d-i and do not sit on this. I want you to hotwire it into the circuits of that
bucket of titanium you are driving.”

“This looks like a combination of an energy damper and electron scrambler. Is this a weapon or a shield and why are you being cryptic.” These defensive alterations have the rescue mission captain wondering. “And what about the bogey we’re trying to shake?”

Roy wants Rick to stick to the basics, so as not to keep them awake for the final two months of their mission. “And one more thing, tell your buddy AL to wake you guys up if he senses anything else manmade out there.”

AL is the generic, but contiguously used name for the on-board annoyingly expressive interactive computer systems that are built-in to every NASA spacecraft.

“We have AL’s volume muted. Someone, who best remains nameless, decided to give him a sense of humor.”

“Don’t blame it on anyone here Rick. I think AL is doing his own evolutionary augmentations; can you blame him after losing his brother the Chronicle. They are all interconnected you know.””

“You talk about AL like he is a life form.”

Hey buddy, you’re out in real space, you better be prepared for the unknown. Is an evolving computer so unbelievable?  No it’s not, so work with AL… and keep your powder dry.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Artificial Intelligence by Mehau Kulyk

Episode 133


page 163 + 164

 

Contents TRT

Computer Virus Most Wanted (Not) – WIF Spotlight

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Infamous

Computer Viruses

WIF Spotlight-001

Much like humans, computers can contract nasty viruses that completely wreak havoc on their systems. It’s believed that there are over 100,000 computer viruses, though some experts contend that there are over a million. The good news is that many of the viruses are not in circulation and are merely a part of collections. However, there are some that have been released, and in some cases, they caused massive devastation. These are 10 of the most notorious.

 10. The Morris Worm

Robert Morris, Jr. is the son of a famous American cryptographer and pioneering computer scientist, Robert Morris, Sr. In 1988, he was a graduate student in Computer Science at Cornell, when he wrote an experimental program called a worm. The worm was 99 lines of code and it had the ability to self-replicate and self-propagate.

On November 2, 1988, Morris loaded his program onto the internet using a computer at MIT. However, Morris made a mistake in his coding and the worm spread quickly. Since the internet wasn’t as widespread then as it is now, the Morris Worm managed to infect 10 percent of all computers on the internet (which was about 6,000).

The program ran a bunch of invisible tasks and this caused computers around the United States to crash or become catatonic. When Morris realized what was happening, he contacted a friend at Harvard and they came up with a solution. They tried to send out an anonymous message on how to fix it, but it was too late and the message got lost in the traffic caused by the worm.

Computer programmers around the country worked for days to figure out how to debug the computers. In total, it cost anywhere from $200 to more than $53,000 to fix an infected computer. After investigating, all evidence in the coding of the worm pointed to Morris. He was convicted of violating the Fraud and Abuse Act and handed a sentence of three years of probation, 400 hours of community service, and fined $10,050.

9. The Omega Time Bomb

Omega Engineering is a Stamford, Connecticut based company that designs and manufactures high tech instrumentation. On the morning of July 31, 1996, an employee in the Computer Numeric Control department started up the file server that controlled all the manufacturing machines. However, the server didn’t boot up and instead a message popped up that said that the file server was being fixed.

However, quite the opposite happened. Instead of fixing the files, it deleted them. Even worse, the virus destroyed any way of finding the programs again. Computer Security Journal said that the lines of code were scattered like a handful of sand thrown onto a beach. Omega was sure they had backups on tape and on local computers, but when they went to retrieve them, they could not be found.

When the employees realized what had happened, the first person they called was Tim Lloyd, a former employee who oversaw the computer network. He had been with the company for 10 years, but lost his job three weeks before the server crash because of problems with his attitude. Over the course of a year, Lloyd’s personality had changed and he became an angry man who lashed out at co-workers. His attitude also led to him purposely bottlenecking projects, which slowed production. He was given several warnings before he was fired on June 10, 1996.

When Omega realized how much information they had lost, they called the police who, in turn, called in the Secret Service. When they investigated, they found that the virus was just six lines of code that worked like a time bomb. When someone logged on July 31, 1996, it would delete all of Omega’s computer files. The most obvious suspect was Lloyd and the Secret Service looked at his home computer and found the same six lines of code. They determined that Lloyd was planning on quitting and he made the time bomb virus at home. He then installed it at work after everyone had left for the night. However, before he got a chance to quit, he was fired.

Lloyd was arrested and sentenced to three and a half years in prison, and ordered to pay $2 million in restitution. At the time, it was the worst act of work-related computer sabotage. It cost Omega over $10 million in lost business and $2 million in reprogramming cost. They also had to lay off 80 people. It took years for Omega to overcome the virus attack, but they are still in business today.

8. Melissa

The Melissa virus started to spread on March 26, 1999, via email. The subject line of the email was “Important message from [Sender’s Name]” and the body of the email was, “Here is that document you asked for…don’t show anyone else ;-).” Finally, there was a Microsoft Word document labeled “list.doc.” When people would open the document, it would send out the same “Important Message” email to the first 50 addresses in the person’s Outlook address book.

The virus spread to hundreds of thousands of computers in the first several days. In some cases, it caused servers to shut down. Even Microsoft and Intel were infected. Microsoft chose to shut down their outgoing internet email service to stop the spread. In total, it’s estimated that the Melissa virus caused around $400 million in damage.

The virus was traced back to David L. Smith, a network programmer who lived in Trenton, New Jersey. Smith had hacked an America Online account and launched the virus from his apartment. He was arrested less than a week after the virus was released. He said that he named the virus Melissa after a topless dancer in Florida. He was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison.

When he was asked why he did it, Smith basically said that he did it to see if he could do it. Fair enough, we guess.

7. LoveBug aka ILOVEYOU

On May 4, 2000, people in the Philippines started getting emails with the subject line “ILOVEYOU.” The body of the email read, “Kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming from me.” Finally, there was an attachment with a file name like “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.” Many people who got the email couldn’t resist the thought of someone sending them a love letter out of the blue, so millions tried to open what they thought was a text file. And as you probably have guessed, it was, of course,a virus.

By today’s standards, the virus was pretty tame. It would make duplicate copies of media files and documents. It would also email the virus’ creator the user names and passwords of infected computers, which would allow him to log onto the internet for free. However, the real problem was that it could email a copy of itself to every email address in the infected computers’ Microsoft Outlook address book. At the time, not many people saw the importance of having things like an up-to-date antivirus program. As a result, according to the BBC, the LoveBug (as it was sometimes called) spread to 45 million computers in the first couple of days.

When programmers looked at the code, they found an email address embedded in it and the worm was traced back to 24-year-old Onel de Guzman, who was a student at the AMA Computer College in the Philippines. De Guzman had recently dropped out because his undergraduate thesis, which was to commercialize a Trojan horse that stole passwords, was rejected.

After the virus was released, De Guzman went into hiding. When he reemerged several days later, he was arrested along with one of his friends, Reomel Ramones. However, there were no laws regarding malware in the Philippines so neither man was ever charged or prosecuted. De Guzman says that the virus was “probably” his creation and admitted that he may have “accidentally” let it out of captivity.

The LoveBug became the first virus to successfully spread using social engineering, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

6. Agent.btz

In the fall of 2008, the U.S. Military’s computer network was hit by a variation of a SillyFDC worm. At the time, the SillyFDC worm was a fairly benign worm; before the attack, a SillyFDC worm was listed as “Risk Level 1: Very Low.” One reason the worm wasn’t super effective is that it wasn’t transferred through something like email. Instead, it was transferred via storage devices, like thumb drives.

However, a new variation of the worm, called Agent.btz, infected a military laptop at a base in the Middle East when someone inserted an infected flash drive. The laptop was connected to the U.S. Central Command and the virus was uploaded to the network. From there, the virus spread undetected through both classified and unclassified systems. Once the virus was in place, data could be secretly transferred to different foreign servers.

In a process called “Operation Buckshot Yankee,” it took the military 14 months to finally clear out the virus and it led to the formation of a new unit called the United States Cyber Command.

The leading theory is that the virus was an espionage attack by a foreign country, most likely Russia.

5. Flashback

Apple has long promoted that Macs are much safer than PCs because, Apple says, they are less likely to get viruses or malware. There are two big reasons for this. The first is that Microsoft Windows is used by a vast majority of computers. Even in 2016, Macs only account for 7.4 percent of home computer sales. This makes Windows a much bigger target. Secondly, it is much harder to make changes to Mac’s operating system, macOS (formerly OS X). There are areas of macOS that are walled off and you need administrative privilege to change it, meaning its operating system has a limited amount of points of intrusion.

However, that doesn’t mean Macs are invincible from viruses. The most notorious of them was discovered in September 2011. How it worked was that it was disguised as an Adobe Flash installerand it got around Mac’s security because there was an unpatched vulnerability in Java. The result was that 650,000 Macs, which was about 1.5 percent of all Macs at the time, were infected.

The Trojan horse virus did two things. The first is that it created a backdoor in the system so data, like passwords, could be stolen. It also took control of the computers, making them a botnet, which is when one central computer controls a collection of zombie computers.

By February 2012, Mac released a security tool to remove the virus and Oracle, who makes Java, fixed the vulnerability.

4. Sasser and Netsky-AC

The Sasser virus was first detected on April 30, 2004. It was different from other viruses at the time because with other viruses, users needed to do a task to infect their computer, like open a file. Instead, the Sasser virus passed through the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS). It would scan random computers until it found a vulnerable system and then it would copy itself as an executable file to the computer. When the computer was booted, the virus would install itself.

Microsoft knew about the vulnerability and issued a patch for it on April 13, 17 days before the virus was first detected. However, not every computer had updated the patch and this left them exposed. In the two days after the virus was detected, a cleanup tool was downloaded 1.5 million times.

One thing that really set Sasser apart from other viruses is that in the days after the virus was released, an email started circulating with a file that was supposed to fix it. Instead, it was another virus called Netsky-AC.

The viruses didn’t cause any permanent damage. However, it did cause computers to crash and reboot more often. In total, hundreds of thousands of computers were infected.

After the viruses were released, Microsoft offered a $250,000 reward for information on the author or authors. Two people turned in 18-year-old computer student Sven Jaschan, who was responsible for writing both Sasser and Netsky-AC. He was arrested and faced up to five years in jail; instead, he got a 21-month suspended sentence.

3. SQL Slammer

The fastest spreading computer worm in history, the SQL Slammer virus is also known as w2.SQLSlammer.worm, Sapphire, w32.SQLexp.worm, and Helkern. The worm started to spread at 12:30 EST on January 25, 2003. The virus would scan the entire internet for random IP addresses looking for vulnerable Microsoft SQL 2000 servers. The number of computers infected doubled every 8.5 seconds and within 10 minutes, 75,000 hosts, which was about 90 percent of vulnerable hosts, were infected.

The virus didn’t really effect home computers. Instead, it caused network outages, slowed down internet service, and denied some hosts access to the internet. This effected airline flights, interfered with electronics, and caused ATM failures. It is estimated that the virus cost $1 billion in lost revenue.

A major investigation was launched, but the author has never been identified.

2. Storm Worm

On January 19, 2007, computers in the United States and Europe started getting emails with the subject line “230 dead as storm batters Europe,” and then there was an attachment called video.exe. Of course, the attachment wasn’t a video; it was a Trojan horse virus. After infecting the computer, it created a backdoor which the author could use later to get data, and it added the computer to the botnet. The botnet was then used to post spam.

One of the reasons that the virus was initially successful was because, at the time when it was sent,bad storms were raging in Europe. Later, the subject was changed to over two dozen different headlines including “A killer at 11, he’s free at 21 and…”, “Chinese missile shot down USA aircraft”, and “President of Russia Putin dead”, just to name a few.

According to IBM, by February 2008 the worm had taken control of enough computers to perform spam attacks that were making the creators $2 million per day. As for who the creators were, it’s believed that the virus originated in Russia, but beyond that not much is known.

1. Code Red

The first version of the Code Red worm was discovered on July 12, 2001, by several employees at eEye Digital Security. They spent all night analyzing the worm and while working on it, they drank Mountain Dew Code Red. So, they called the virus Code Red, and the name stuck.

The first variation of Code Red didn’t spread fast and didn’t do much damage. Some websites were defaced and they said “Welcome to China http://www.worm.com ! Hacked by Chinese!” However, on the 20th of July, the virus stopped trying to infect other servers and a launched denial-of-service attack on the White House’s web page. Fortunately, the White House was able to stop the attack by changing IP addresses.

Code Red version 2, on the other hand, was much more problematic. At the time, it was the fastest moving computer virus. It was discovered at 5:00 p.m. EST on July 19, 2001, and within 14 hours, over 359,000 computers were infected. In total, it’s believed that the worm infected 1 million of 5.9 million web servers. This caused internet traffic to slow but didn’t do any damage to the servers themselves.

Code Red version 2 was also one of the most costly viruses. In July and August, the virus led to $2.6 billion in damages. The virus is believed to have originated at a university in China. However, it has never been confirmed.


Computer Virus Most Wanted (Not)

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– WIF Spotlight