The Tale of Samy The Worm.

One of the greatest moments in hacking history.

Niall Leah

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rogistok (Shutterstock)

Samy was a computer worm created by a hacker, also named Samy, who at the time was 19 years old. It would be responsible for one of the greatest moments in hacking history.

Eager to change some cosmetic features, Samy (The man) did some fiddling and realized that due to poor security on Myspace, he could quite easily install a worm on his profile.

The Worm he installed was a cross-site scripting worm with one job.

Every time somebody visited his profile, they would automatically send Samy a friend request. Furthermore, their bio would be altered to say…

“But most of all, Samy is my hero.”

The goal was to infect a few hundred accounts to impress Samy’s friends in the tech industry. A few laughs, no actual harm done. He made a change to the code to speed along the process. Every time somebody visited an infected profile, their profile would also be infected.

The virus snowballed from here.

Samy (The Worm) infected a few hundred profiles by the first morning, but the number basically kept doubling throughout the day.

Within 24 hours, Samy the Worm had infected over a million accounts and was growing exponentially. In fact, It had become the fastest-growing computer virus of all time.

An unintended side-effect was that it was impossible to remove Samy as a friend once a profile had been infected. Deleting him would only trigger the Worm to add him again.

Friendship with Samy was no longer optional.

Sammy (The man) was now on the verge of panic, as the monster he created reached gigantic proportions. He sent an anonymous message explaining how to fix the hack, but Myspace didn’t seem to act on it. They ultimately had to take Myspace offline to purge the Worm.

Within days a lot of people had seen the funny side. People were selling T-shirts with “Samy is my hero.” And voluntarily adding the phrase to their own profiles.

The United States Secret Service, however, did not find the prank amusing.

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Niall Leah

An ex-pat from the UK living in Chengdu, China. I satisfy my endless curiosity about the incredible journey of humanity by reading, traveling, and writing.