The 2003 Slammer Virus That Took The Whole Internet Offline

Samuel Reason

An infamous virus that to this day remains a complete mystery wreaked havoc on the world in 2003. Within 10 minutes it infected over 400,000 computers total, and within 40 minutes it doubled its population. Crucially the computer virus infected five of the thirteen root DNS servers, which crippled the world’s internet. In fact, most of the internet went down for over a week.

London based market intelligence company Mi2g believes that over $950 million to $1.2 billion was lost due to lost productivity. The beauty of the virus was due to how simple it was, it is considered to this day one of the fastest spreading viruses. As a result, the code that started the virus was extremely small. Meaning it was a very small file size and could spread quickly. The exploit lived entirely in the computer’s memory, which meant just rebooting the computer removed it. It made no actual changes to the disk or make any changes to the system at all.

The reason it shut down the internet was that it was spamming the network to spread. When the Slammer virus infects a computer it begins sending its exploit with the worm code to random IPs, essentially, to infect new targets.

In North America, Windows XP activation servers had to be taken offline, along with Continental Airlines going back to pens and papers for records. Banks were hit the worst of all, ATMs stopped working entirely. Even the U.S. Department of State, Agriculture, and Commerce and Defense was hit by the worm. Worryingly, the virus even made its way into the David-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio. In Asia, the whole of South Korea’s internet went offline causing billions of potential revenue to be lost. Europe was not hit as hard, though Portugal reported over 300,000 customers of Cable ISP Netcabo losing the internet.

The crazy thing is, nobody knows who made this virus. It is a complete mystery. Some authorities believe it to be based on code or concepts created by Benny who was part of the virus magazine 29A during the 90s and early 2000s. However, 29A members do not release their viruses into the wild, so this is unlikely.

Next Article
  • The Legend Of The Sleeping Barbarossa Emperor

    Emperor Frederick I. also known as Barbarossa was an Emperor of modern-day Germany. He became a symbol of stability and national unity, even years after his death. Because the country fell into war and civil war, the people longed for the peace that had existed with Barbarossa’s rule. The legend started because his body was...

    Read More
  • The Infamous Shark Arm Case in Australia

    In 1935, the infamous case of the shark arm started when a tiger shark in captivity vomited up a human arm. The tiger shark was in the Coogee Aquarium Baths on public display. After just a week it became very ill and vomited in front of a crowd. What came out was the forearm of...

    Read More
  • In Russia Cows Are Wearing VR Headsets To Produce More Milk

    You may have seen the photos flying around social media of cows wearing VR headsets. And no they’re not actually fake. These Russian farmers have been putting VR headsets on their cows. Apparently, it can lead to a much higher yield of milk and more money for the farmers. Of course, commenters quickly asserted that...

    Read More
  • The Crypt Of Civilization

    An airtight chamber that was built sometime between 1937 and 1940 is found in Georgia, by the Oglethorpe University. It’s called the Crypt of Civilization and is not planned to be opened until AD 8113. The container is filled with many artifacts and sound recordings from early 20th-century life. The idea was to build something...

    Read More
  • Crooked Teeth Are A Modern Phenomenon

    When you think about cavemen you probably think about clubs, caves, and running away from dinosaurs. So having time for dental hygiene would not have been a top priority. However, research shows that ancient humans had much better teeth than today. Crooked and ill-aligned teeth are a completely modern phenomenon. ...

    Read More
  • Swedish Man Who Tried To Build A Nuclear Reactor In His Home

    One Swedish man tried for months to build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen, and he would probably have never stopped. Richard Handl was curious if he could split an atom at home. Police finally shut down his home research center after he made a call to the radiation authorities to ask if what he...

    Read More
  • The Infamous Stock Market Hackers Of 1834

    A little-known tale of one of the first times cyber crime happened on the stock market is the tale of the Blanc brothers. What’s even more amazing is it happened in 1834 when there was no internet or computers. But since 1794, France had its national telecommunication lines and network called the semaphore telegraph. It...

    Read More
  • Elderly Tenant Received Over $17 Million To Move Out

    A reclusive man who had lived alone for over 30 years was paid an estimated $17 million to move out of a rent-controlled apartment in New York. By far the most expensive payment ever made to relocate a tenant. Apparently, the man’s apartment was extremely damp, very cluttered, and cramp, but still, he refused to...

    Read More