Since the very first computer virus spread like wildfire by infecting floppy disks, viruses have gone on to cause millions in damages across the globe.
The first computer virus, called the “Elk Cloner,” was created as a teenager’s harmless prank, displaying random messages to users and played subtle tricks when the infected floppy disk was booted.
But since then, many different types of viruses have been created. Some, like the Elk Cloner, can be annoying but harmless to your computer. Others can do actual damage and end up costing you money due to wasting computer resources, causing system failures, corrupting or deleting your data, or even stealing your private information.
It’s difficult to count the actual number of viruses in existence because everyone defines new viruses and categorizes them differently. Some estimates range from in the thousands, to the tens of millions, while others categorize all viruses to a couple dozen different types.
While many of these viruses can be easily defeated, others have gone rampant and cost millions of dollars in damage. The Klez virus, for example, stole confidential emails and spreads them around the web via mass emails, in some instances costing millions of dollars in damages due to jamming networks with mass emailing. In another famous instance, hackers used viruses to steal 40 million credit card numbers from Target, costing the company $148 million dollars to recover.