“The Persistence of Chaos”- the most dangerous art piece
When speaking of some of the world’s greatest artworks we usually mention their complex history, but speaking of being dangerous to those who own them – not many of them would make it on such a list. The artwork titled “The Persistence of Chaos” might be an exception. It was created by Chinese internet artist Guo O Dong. This is a laptop, a 10.2 –inch Samsung NC10-14GB, a Netbook that is running Windows XP SP3 and that is filled with six of the world’s most dangerous pieces of malware. Irony is – it is perfectly safe as long as you do not connect it to your Wi-Fi or plug in a USB.
The six viruses that inhibit this laptop have caused damages measuring up to almost $95 billion over the course of their collective existential period. In order to keep the laptop safe it has been isolated and air-gapped – to prevent malware that it contains from spreading.
The collaboration with DeepInstict, a privately owned NewYork-based cybersecurity company – brought to life this deadly piece of art. The highest destructive collection of viruses in this piece were available to the highest bidder in an online auction – the minimum bid started with $1,200, 750. Since the sale of malware of any kind is a criminal act in the U.S., the Samsung laptop was being sold as a “piece of art” to be used for academic purposes.
The detailed list of the six pieces of malware contained within laptop include:
- SoBig – a worm and trojan that highly circulated through emails and viral spam. This worm can copy files, email itself to others and can greatly damage computer software/hardware. It is estimated that it caused the damage of about $37 billion and affected thousands of PCs.
- WannaCry – an extremely popular ransomware cryptoworm that setup backdoors on systems. The attack affected thousands of PCs across more than 150 countries, and caused the damage of more than $4 billion.
- MyDoom – it is said that is was commissioned by Russian email spammers, and it is one of the fastest spreading worms. The amount of the damage it caused is more than $38 billion.
- ILOVEYOU – known as being distributed by email and file sharing, it caused $5 billion in damages in total.
- BlackEnergy – it uses modular architecture knows as a “dropper”. It caused the large scale blackout in Ukraine in December 2015.
- DarkTequila – a highly sophisticated piece of malware that targeted users mainly in Latin America. It’s target were people’s bank credentials and corporate data that were stolen while offline.
In words of it’s artist Guo o Dong a hazardous laptop was “a kind of bestiary – a catalogue of historical threats”. He explained that people’s fantasy that things that happen in computers cannot affect people is absurd. The infected infrastructure can cause direct harm. Dong used the WannaCry example as perfect example to describe this notion. He said:
“WannaCry caused the UK’s National Health Service the equivalent of $100 million in damages. This led to cancellation of thousands of doctor’s appointments. This surely caused significant human harm.”
The cyberattacks that were so malicious and that created the chaos of enormous measure are not rare. For example, the city of Baltimore has been paralyzed in May this year when a ransomware attack seized parts of the government’s computer systems. Even though once the city discovered that the ransomware occurred it took offline its systems, it was already too late – the attack took down the voicemail, email, a parking fines database, and even a system that was used to pay water bills, property taxes and vehicle citations. We saw many more attacks of this kind – at the beginning of the year there was an attack against a slew of US newspapers, and then in February, a targeted attack against a hospital that involved two GandCrab ransomware attacks.
It is true that people were fascinated since the first computer was found with the idea of releasing malicious code that would disable and compromise the world’s computer systems. As the world enters a new age where wars seem to be fought on the virtual battlefield and from behind the computers rather than tanks or fighter planes – it is high time for the people to consider the difference that we imagine to exist between the real world and the digital one.
The collector that bid and bought “The Persistence of Chaos” for more than $1,3 million must know that he will have to keep this piece of art under lock and key. It is for humanity’s sake.
It is noted that this laptop was created in order to draw the public’s attention and attention of institutions and businesses to how very real is the threat of cyberattacks and how little is the world prepared for it.