If you were to say the words "WannaCry, BlackEnergy, ILOVEYOU, MyDoom, SoBig, and DarkTequila" to the tech guys here at Gamereactor, they'd probably break out in a cold sweat because those are the names of six of the most infamous pieces of malware ever created.
Between them, these virulent pieces of coding have cost almost $100 billion USD in associated damages, and they've all had a very real impact on the wider tech world (see the descriptions at the end of this article for more details).
With that being the case, it seems a strange decision to bundle all six of these examples of malware onto the same laptop and then put that laptop up for sale. And when we say "sale", we mean auction, where it's currently priced at more than $400K USD.
Technically you're not allowed to sell malware in the US, but contemporary artist Guo O Dong has got around the law because this project is considered art. He's calling it The Persistence of Chaos, and Dong has built this project in conjunction with security firm Deep Instinct.
"I created The Persistence of Chaos because I wanted to see how the world responds to and values the impact of malware," Dong told Forbes.
The software is locked away on an air-gapped Samsung NC10-14GB 10.2-Inch Blue Netbook (2008) running Windows XP SP3, so in theory, there's no chance of the malware spreading. Unless, of course, some evil villain snaps the laptop up at auction, at which point all bets are off.
No doubt someone in Hollywood is already penning the script for the movie...
The ILOVEYOU virus, distributed via email and file sharing, affected 500,000+ systems and caused $15B in damages total, with $5.5B in damages being caused in the first week.
MyDoom, potentially commissioned by Russian e-mail spammers, was one of the fastest spreading worms. It's projected that this virus caused $38B in damages.
SoBig was a worm and trojan that circulated through emails as viral spam. This piece of malware could copy files, email itself to others, and could damage computer software/hardware. This piece of malware caused $37B in damages and affected hundreds of thousands of PCs.
WannaCry was an extremely virulent ransomware cryptoworm that also set up backdoors on systems. The attack affected 200,000+ computers across 150 countries, and caused the NHS $100M in damages with further totals accumulating close to $4B.
A sophisticated and evasive piece of malware that targeted users mainly in Latin America, DarkTequila stole bank credentials and corporate data even while offline. DarkTequila costed millions in damages across many users.
BlackEnergy 2 uses sophisticated rootkit/process-injection techniques, robust encryption, and a modular architecture known as a "dropper". BlackEnergy was used in a cyberattack that prompted a large-scale blackout in Ukraine in December 2015.