Malware-Laden Laptop Sold as Artwork May Fetch $1M

John Lister's picture

A laptop riddled with six of the most devastating computer viruses of recent years looks set to sell for more than a million dollars. It's part of a bizarre auction that positions the computer as "a work of art."

The laptop, dubbed "The Persistence of Chaos" is an ordinary Samsung netbook running Windows XP. What makes it unusual is that it is currently running six pieces of malware that are installed on the machine have caused an estimated $95 billion of damage worldwide.

It's a collaboration between cyber security company Deep Instinct and artists Guo O Dong, who says his work "critiques modern day extremely-online culture."

Laptop 'Airgapped' For Security

Once it's sold, the laptop will be "airgapped," meaning it will have no physical method of connecting to the Internet such as an Ethernet port or a wireless card. Of course, the buyer could change that by simply installing a wireless dongle, copying files to USB drive, or removing the hard drive to use in another machine.

The sellers point out that modifying the PC in this way would be illegal in the US due to the infections it contains. Indeed, the buyer is required to confirm they are buying the "exhibit" for artistic or academic reasons.

Four of the malware infections may be familiar to many computer users, including: ILOVEYOU, So Big, MyDoom and WannaCry. The last of these was a notorious piece of ransomware that put many hospital systems out of action in the UK. (Source:

The other two pieces aren't as well known worldwide but still caused serious damage. DarkTequila was used to steal data such as bank details in Latin America, while BlackEnergy was used to shut down electricity supplies in Ukraine.

Million Dollar Bid

The auction runs for around a week and at the time of writing the top bid was $1,130,500. The sellers say the reserve has been met, implying this is a genuine bid from a would-be buyer. (Source:

They say anyone who places a bid must provide follow-up information within 24 hours, otherwise it will be cancelled. It's not clear if the current high bidder has been through this verification process.

What's Your Opinion?

Is it responsible to sell something like this in the name of "art"? Can you understand why anyone would pay so much money for it? Should the sellers be held criminally responsible if it is misused?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Wannacry will effectively encrypt everything that is on the laptop, so there is no point in doing anything with it other than viewing the "your files have been encrypted" message. Oh what fun that would be. Besides that, what's the point of using a system that can't connect to the Internet?

Whoever bid $1M for this system has a few loose screws. One could simply search the Internet for these infections and make their own "art work" in a virtual machine (with the network disabled) for $0.00, minus the time involved.