The Computer Virus Catalogue Is A Bizarre Illustrated Guide To The Deadliest Viruses In History

Some computer viruses wreck your computer from behind the scenes. You only know they’re there because your computer starts acting weird or your files get wiped out.

And sometimes you can tell you have a virus just by looking. A weird image appears on the screen. Or music starts playing for no reason.

The Computer Virus Catalogue is a compilation of some of the deadliest computer viruses in history.

The catalogue is the brainchild of curator Bas van de Poel, a Dutch designer who’s worked on advertising campaigns for Converse and Lego, among others.

“It’s a personal art project that arose from my fascination for computer viruses,” he told Business Insider in an email. “I’ve always been interested in the dark side of computing. I specifically wanted to do something with computer viruses when I found out that the Melissa virus is named after the author’s favourite exotic dancer.”

Van de Poel says he got in touch with artists whose works he likes, and asked them to make illustrations for him. “The viruses were selected based on their back stories and in some cases the visual effects they produce,” he says.

Each picture is accompanied by a paragraph explaining what the virus does to your computer.

The Cookie Monster virus might be the world's first computer virus; it was created in the 1960s by MIT students to annoy their fellow classmates. The virus freezes everything on the computer, and flashes the word 'cookie' on the screen. To get rid of it, the infected user would have to type the word 'cookie.'

The Melissa virus is named after the virus author's favourite exotic dancer. It's a worm that infects Word documents and spreads through email as an attachment. If an attachment containing the virus is opened, it replicates and sends itself out to people in the infected user's email address book.

The Selectronic virus is trippy. It infects .COM files. On Friday the 13th, the infected computer displays the text 'Countdown to extinction ...,' plays a song, and an animation of the Grim Reaper goes across the screen.

The Nople virus is a worm that spreads over local and shared networks. When it's activated, it displays an animation and the text '¬°Es hora de formatear tu disco!' That means 'It is the hour to format your disc!'

The Madman virus infects .EXE files. When you hit Ctrl-Alt-Del, instead of restarting the computer, the virus displays a picture of an angry man. If you hit another key, this message would appear: 'Nothing can save you here, friend -- you're in my world now!' Scary!

The Lichen virus infects .COM and .EXE files. It lies dormant for a month, and then, if there's no keyboard activity for more than a minute, a creepy fungus-looking animation appears on the screen.

The LSD virus has an appropriate name because of its trippy-looking visual effects -- after erasing all the files in the current directory.

Mobile phones aren't immune to these viruses, either. The Skulls virus targets Nokia phones that run Symbian. It replaces all the app icons with pictures of skulls. As if that weren't bad enough, it also tries to drain your phone's battery.

The Melting Worm virus affects .EXE files and spreads via your Outlook address book. It promises to be a cool screensaver, but looks can be deceiving: it actually melts your screen!

The Ika-Tako virus looks like a regular music file. But when it's opened, it replaces all your stuff with pictures of squids.

The Happy99 virus spreads through email attachments. When opened, it shows an animation of fireworks and displays the message 'Happy new year!' But it also messes with a bunch of your system files.

The Crash virus runs an endless, annoying loop of gibberish.

The ILOVEYOU virus may sound nice, but it's actually awful. It infected more than 50 million computers in just a few days, causing $US10 billion in damages. It looks like a nice love letter, but it actually erases all your local files.

The Code Red virus was named by the researchers who discovered it after the drink Code Red Mountain Dew. It causes the infected computer to initiate a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the White House's website.

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