For Chinese artist Guo O Dong, the simple black 2008 Samsung NC10 laptop running on Microsoft’s now outdated Windows XP, is loaded with six potent viruses and symbolises one of the world’s most frightening threats.Recently, his creation ‘The Persistence of Chaos’ rocked the art world, selling for more than Rs 9.4 crore ($1.3 million) in a New York online auction.
But, loaded onto its memory chips are the computing world’s equivalents of the most deadly infectious diseases: ‘ILOVEYOU’ from 2000, ‘Sobig’ of 2003, ‘MyDoom’ (2004), ‘DarkTequila’ (2013), ‘BlackEnergy’ (2015), and the most notorious of all, the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware from two years ago.It is a powerful symbol of the threat a simple laptop can pose to the entire world. The six trojans, worms and malware loaded on it have caused at least $95 billion in damage around the world, according to Guo.
Guo is an internet artist “whose work critiques modern day extremely online culture,” the auction site, organised by cybersecurity group Deep Instinct, said.The computer, viewed via an online video stream, in its auction state is turned on, but offline. It is “air gapped” — its wireless and internet connections physically and electronically plugged.
But it comes with ominous warning to the buyer not to unleash its pathogenic programs by unplugging its connection hardware, or by simply inserting a thumb drive.Anyone who submitted a bid contractually agreed that they “have no intention of disseminating any malware”. The buyer was not identified.