Inspired by the “dark side of computing,” Amsterdam-based designer Bas van de Poel has launched an illustrated online guide to some of the world’s most destructive computer viruses.
The Computer Virus Catalog charts twenty viruses dating from the 1960s to the present day. Some are fairly harmless – from an animated worm wishing users Happy New Year and one which triggers lichen-inspired visuals when keyboards are inactive – while others have wiped out entire hard drives and caused billions of dollars in damage.
Each entry is accompanied by an original illustration from a different creative, and contributors include HORT, Jonathan Zawada, Sarah Mazzetti, Karborn and Mike Perry. “I approached artists whose work I really like, and tried to create a nice mix of designers, illustrators and artists,” says van de Poel.
“I’ve always had a great interest in the dark side of computing. Things like the NSA, underground TOR networks and viruses really fascinate me, and it seemed to be an interesting area to explore creatively,” he adds.
The project is ongoing and as well as adding more viruses to the site, van de Poel hopes to publish the collection in book form. For now, you can see the full set here.
Top: LSD, illustrated by Clay Hickson, overwrites computer users files’ before displaying a hallucinogeic-inspired video
Above: Madman, illustrated by Jay Wright, causes an ASCII image of an angry red faced man to appear whenever computer users hit CTRL-ALT-DEL. Hit the keyboard again and the virus displays the message: ‘Nothing can save you here, friend – you’re in my world now!’
Nople, illustrated by Merijn Hos, invades local networks displaying furry graphics and the message ‘It is the hour to format your disc!’
Implant, illustrated by Karborn, displays a hi res photograph of a topless blonde woman. On rebooting, it erases the infected computer’s hard drive
Anna Kournikova, illustrated by Sarah Mazzetti, poses as an email containing an image of the tennis player before invading and emailing Outlook users’ contact lists…
Skulls, illustrated by Anthony Burrill, corrupts Nokia phones sending malicious links to contacts and draining batteries
Ika-Tako, illustrated by Saïd Kinos, replaces photos, applications and system files on Windows PCs with images of squids
Lichen, illustrated by Jonathan Zawada, produces lichen-inspired visuals whenever users’ keyboards are inactive for more than a minute
Cookie Monster, by Lawrence Slater. Allegedly the world’s first computer virus, it freezes activity until users type the word ‘cookie’