Art and its aficionados have a special place in the human psyche. For some, it is the ultimate panacea, and for the others, it doesn’t make any sense. True in both the senses, you may find it unfathomable to learn that a laptop laden with literally all the famous malware sold for $1.3 million at an art auction.
The 11-year-old 10.2 inch Samsung Netbook also called as “The Persistence of Chaos” by artist Guo O Dong is infected with six different strains of malware namely ILOVEYOU, MyDoom, SoBig, BlackEnergy, WannaCry and DarkTequila. It is believed to have caused damages totalling to $95 billion to IT systems across the world.
It is not that the malware is rare or of high value, “These pieces of software seem so abstract, almost fake with their funny, spooky names, but I think they emphasize that the web and IRL are not different spaces,” Guo said while speaking to Motherboard. “Malware is one of the most tangible ways that the internet can jump out of your monitor and bite you.”
To prevent the malware from spreading from the new owner, the laptop’s internet connectivity and ports are disabled.
“By submitting a bid you agree and acknowledge that you’re purchasing this work as a piece of art or for academic reasons, and have no intention of disseminating any malware,” Guo said in the terms of the auction to ABC.
The laptop began its bid at $1.9 million and was eventually sold to an unknown person for $1.3 million and will be shipped from a gallery in New York.
The laptop was created in collaboration between the artist and cybersecurity company Deep Instinct. “We have this fantasy that things that happen in computers can’t actually affect us, but this is absurd,” Guo told The Verge. “Weaponised viruses that affect power grids or public infrastructure can cause direct harm. [WannaCry caused] the equivalent of $US100 million in damages and led to the cancellation of tens of thousands of doctors’ appointments. It is not a leap to say this caused significant human harm.”