Auctions of classic gadgets, such as perhaps an Apple 1 computer, makes perfect sense. It is a piece of a history, a sense of nostalgia and the willingness to have a piece of tech that perhaps shaped where we are today, and all that melding of emotions and sentiments along with a lot of money make perfect sense. But what you may struggle to fathom is that someone just spent $1.2 million to get their hands on a laptop that is filled with incredibly dangerous malware. The auction was commissioned cybersecurity firm Deep Instinct, and the Samsung NC10 laptop was dubbed The Persistence of Chaos.
As it turns out, the Samsung NC10 is a netbook from 2008—that is a time netbooks were a rage, simply because they were compact to carry around and offered better battery life than most. This has a 10.2-inch display, is dressed in blue colour and runs the Windows XP SP3 operating system. But what is inside is deadly. This runs 6 of the worst malware the world has ever seen—yes, 6.
The first is the ILOVEYOU virus, which was distributed via email attachments and file sharing. This affected as many as 500,000 computing devices globally, and is believed to have caused as much as $5.5 billion in damages within the first week of it being unleashed.
Then there is MyDoom, which is believed to have been commissioned by Russian e-mail spammers. This is one of the fastest spreading pieces of malware ever, and is believed to have caused as much as $38 billion in damages.
SoBig was a worm and trojan that was distributed via emails as viral spam. SoBig could could copy files, email itself to others, and infected thousands of PCs globally. The estimated damage counter is at $37 billion.
Then there is the WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm that also set up backdoors on systems for other malware to exploit. WannaCry affected more than 200,000 computers in around 150 countries, and caused the NHS in the UK as much $100M in damages with the total expected damage close to $4 billion.
DarkTequila was a sophisticated malware that targeted users in Latin American countries. This stole bank credentials as well as stole data from corporate networks, even when the systems were offline. The final estimates of the damage caused by DarkTequila haven’t been totalled up yet, but it is expected to be in millions.
Last but not least is the BlackEnergy 2, which used a very sophisticated rootkit and process-injection techniques as well as robust encryption. The BlackEnergy malware was used in a cyberattack that caused a large-scale blackout in Ukraine.
Well, from the outside, this Samsung NC10 looks pretty harmless. And it should be, unless you decide to pull the trigger and connect it to the internet. These pieces of malware could still have the potential to cause some more damage, though one would expect software and operating systems to be patched up well enough to deal with such occurrences. A ticking time bomb, one may say?