Art is known to be complex and has some history attached to it, but any art piece can’t harm the world like ‘The Persistence of Chaos’, the world’s most dangerous laptop filled with 6 extremely destructive pieces of malware. It is currently being sold at an auction and the bid has surpassed $1.2 million. The project has been commissioned by cybersecurity firm, Deep Instinct, and has been created by Guo O Dong.
While speaking to ‘The Verge’, artist Guo O Dong mentioned his intentions behind developing the laptop. He said “We have this fantasy that things that happen in computers can’t actually affect us, but this is absurd. Weaponized viruses that affect power grids or public infrastructure can cause direct harm.”
This laptop is kept in isolation and air-gapped which means the virus cannot escape anywhere unless you connect it to Wi-Fi or attach a USB which is not going to end well because these viruses are known to create damage up to $100 billion worldwide. It might seem very dangerous that such a destructive device is being sold as a piece of art, but the official listing page for the project clearly states that the auction is only meant for ‘academic reasons’ as the sale of malware is illegal for operational purposes.
The artwork is a Samsung NC10-14GB 10.2-inch laptop (2008), which is currently running Windows XP Service Pack 3. The six viruses include ILOVEYOU, SoBig, MyDoom, WannaCry, Dark Tequila, and BlcakEnergy.
These viruses have been selected on the basis of the economic damage they have caused. The ILOVEYOU virus, which distributed via email in the form of a love letter, affected 500,000+ systems and caused damages worth $5.5 billion in the first week. WannaCry caused massive damaged to the UK’s National Health Service and caused about $100 million damage. It infected more than 200,000 computers globally. MyDoom caused $38 billion in damages and SoBig led to a loss of $37 billion. A large-scale blackout in Ukraine in 2015 was caused by BlackEnergy.
The auction is being conducted online and is streamed live to make sure it doesn’t make any sudden moves and keep an eye on the rising price tag. Guo thinks of the artwork as “a kind of bestiary — a catalog of historical threats.”
After the auction ends and before the artwork is shipped, the computer’s internet capabilities and available ports will completely be disabled.