* was only 419 bytes long
* infected both .COM and .EXE, increasing the size of the former by only 1813 bytes
* on infection, became memory resident (using only 2kb of memory)
* hooked itself into interrupt processing and other low level DOS services to, for instance, suppress the printing of console messages in failure cases (like trying to to infect a file on a read-only floppy disk)
* activated itself every friday 13th and deleted programs used that day
It still managed to spread itself worldwide (mostly via floppy disk sharing as the world wide web didn't exist yet) and went mainstream enough for the broadcast news to advise people not to turn on their computers on that date or to push the date one day ahead.
All that in 419 bytes, about a third of the size of this post.
This was a delightful comparison. It didn't really sink in until you said that.
You must not have a full grasp of how HN operates.
If all it takes to get into a Wired article is to regurgitate information already plentifully available online, I'm pretty worried about Wired's future.
While the comment was substantive and linked to sources, this is normal for HN and nothing special.
How about you contact the guy who posted the article? He's the CRO from F-Secure, one of the research companies that was linked to as a source.
I really hope Wired doesn't start using random comments as "experts" in articles.
> * was only 419 bytes long
> * infected both .COM and .EXE,
increasing the size of the former
by only 1813 bytes
Great post, but wouldn't the internet, email, BBS and other networks have been the main cause of its worldwide spread?
Much like the spread of HIV back in the late 80's and early 90's most people didn't really understand how exactly computers programs worked and didn't follow IT guidelines on how to avoid getting infected. The number of infections was naturally limited by the small number of people at risk: computer users.
But as the availability of computers and the number of useful applications increased so did the volume of infections being spread through the same bad habits: floppy sharing without protection, and by that I mean the read only lock.
And, instead of the ideal (but very hard) way to eradicate the problem (informatic prophylaxis and education for users) the industry "solved" the problem by creating the antivirus and accepting an occasional infection as something unavoidable.
Then the World Wide Web exploded, creating a frictionless media for the spread of these infections and here we are.
I'll take a botnet computer over a bricked one any day.
Instead look at things like Intel's trusted computing. Igor Skochinsky (of fame from Hexrays / IDA, and moderator on /r/reverseengineering) has an excellent powerpoint highlighting some research on their Management Engine, which is probably in your computer right now.
I wrote DOS viruses when I was fifteen or sixteen. Most of them didn't do anything or did silly little pranks, but it's how I learned X86 ASM.
Me and some friends pooled together and bought a couple of CD-ROM's full of warez from some guy we found online and one of the games or applications was infected. Looking back, I'm actually pretty more all of them weren't infected!
Even shady 1990s warez CDs need to be preserved :)
Back then, one of the most amazing virus was Whale !
Perhaps it would just be a Science Fiction plot device!
A virus on the other hand that inserts itself for example into source code could very well live a long time.
I'll have to look to see if there are any familiar boot sector viruses - the kind that propagated via floppies. Those made the rounds at work.
I enjoyed disassembling them and seeing how they work. It was an education that kids miss out on today.
Come to think of it, back when I was teaching a Perl class one of my first assignments was to create a "virus" that found Perl scripts and copied itself into them. Good times.