An auction for a netbook model from 2008 that is running Windows XP SP3 has fetched more than $1.3 million from its final bid, with the buyer owning quite possibly the most expensive laptop in the world. Why did it sell for so much? It contains half a dozen malware samples that have collectively caused over $95 billion in financial damages.
The laptop is appropriately called "The Persistence of Chaos" and, according to the seller, it is an art piece. Guo O Dong, a "contemporary Internet artist whose work critiques modern day extremely-online culture," collaborated with Deep Instinct, a cybersecurity company, which provided the malware.
Normally, a Samsung NC10 netbook would be an innocuous piece of hardware. However, this one is loaded with ILOVEYOU, MyDoom, SoBig, WannaCry, DarkTequila, and BlackEnergy. Those all caused major headaches, with MyDoom and SoBig resulting in $38 billion and $37 billion in damages, respectively.
If you're wondering how something like this could be sold in the open, that's a good question. I don't pretend to be a lawyer, but Mr. Dong and Deep Instinct are pitching this as an art piece, which may or may not be enough to skirt the law.
"The sale of malware for operational purposes is illegal in the United States. As a buyer you recognize that this work represents a potential security hazard. 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," the listing states.
There is a livestream of the laptop on Twitch. It is apparently "isolated and airgapped to prevent against spread of the malware." In the addition, the listing states that the laptop's Internet capabilities and ports will be "functionally disabled" prior to the winning bidder taking possession of the machine.
Thumbnail/Top Image Source: Deep Instinct via The Persistence of Chaos