computer viruses

Since the beginning of processing for the masses, endless computer viruses have been released. Today an expected one million viruses are available for use and thousands are made each month.

Get within, the track on probably the most prominent and the most noticeably bad PC viruses ever:

  • 1988 – The Morris Worm

In 1988 Robert Morris, a college understudy, released a worm which influenced 10 percent of the considerable number of PCs associated with the web.

The Virus backed the PC off to a creep and brought every one of the machines utilized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to a stop.

Inside days it turned into the most far-reaching viruses the world had ever observed, as individuals shared Word Documents through email.

The concept virus accidentally shipped on a CD-ROM provided by the Microsoft in 1995.

This one is the principal viruses to infect Microsoft Word Documents.

It was the first to increase critical predominant press consideration.

It likewise brought about the principal lawful offense conviction in the US under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Morris later became an associate professor at MIT.


According to its maker, Robert Tappan Morris, the Morris worm was not composed to bring about harm, but rather to gauge the extent of the Internet.

The worm was released from MIT in the expectation of recommending that its maker examined there, which Morris did not (however Morris later turned into a tenured educator at MIT in 2006).

It worked by abusing known vulnerabilities in UNIX Sendmail, Finger, and rsh/rexec, and also frail passwords.

Because of dependence on rsh (typically crippled on untrusted systems), fixes to Sendmail, Finger, the across the board utilization of system separating, and enhanced attention to the threats of powerless passwords, it ought not to prevail on a current, appropriately designed system.

And as far as anyone knows unintended the outcome of the code, notwithstanding, made it be all the more harming.

A PC could be infected different circumstances and each extra procedure would back the machine off, in the long run to the point of being unusable.

This would have an indistinguishable impact from a Fork Bomb and crash the PC a few times.

The primary body of the worm could just infect DEC VAX machines running 4BSD, and Sun-3 systems.

A versatile C “Grappling Hook” segment of the worm was utilized to pull over (download) the principle body, and the hooking snare could keep running on different systems, stacking them down and making them fringe casualties.

1999 – Melissa

Melissa was spread by means of a file to a Usenet aggregate called “”, and the document contained passwords for 80 pornographic sites.

The virus is named after a Miami-based stripper.

It infected a large number of machines.

It was a mass-mailing large scale virus. As it was not an independent program, it is not a worm.

This destructive and across the board PC virus was found on Friday, March 26, 1999.

This virus has spread everywhere throughout the globe inside hours of the underlying disclosure, evidently spreading speedier than whatever other viruses some time recently.

Melissa works with Microsoft Word 97, Microsoft Word 2000 and Microsoft Outlook 97 or 98 email client.

You don’t need Microsoft Outlook to get the viruses in an email, however, it won’t spread itself further without it.

Melissa won’t work under Word 95 and won’t spread further under Outlook Express.

Melissa can infect Windows 95, 98, NT and Macintosh clients. On the off chance that the infected machine does not have Outlook or web access by any means, the viruses will keep on spreading locally inside the client’s own archives.

When the email beneficiary opened the document, the worm endeavored to mail itself to the initial 50 email addresses it could take from the PC.

Its creator, David L Smith was restricted from going close to a PC without consent from the court.


Melissa was at first circulated in an internet discussion group called “”.

The virus was sent in a file called “LIST.DOC”, which contained passwords for X-rated sites.

At the point when clients downloaded the file and opened it in Microsoft Word, a full scale inside the report executed and messaged the “LIST.DOC” document to 50 individuals’ files in the user’s email alias file (“address book”).

The email resembled this:

From: (name of infected user)
Subject: Important Message From (name of infected user)
To: (50 names from alias list)
Body: Here is that document you asked for … don’t show anyone else 😉
Attachment: LIST.DOC

Do see that Melissa can arrive in any archive, not really just in this “LIST.DOC” where it was spread at first.

The vast majority of the beneficiaries are probably going to open the document, as it, for the most part, originates from somebody they know.

2000 – ILoveYou

It here and there alluded to as “Love Letter”.

It was a PC worm that assaulted a huge number of Windows PCs on and after 5 May 2000.

The “IloveYou” virus spread when it was downloaded as an email connection. It then began replicating itself a few times and stored away in envelopes on the hard drive.

In the Philippines when it started spreading as an email message with the subject line “ILOVEYOU” and the attachment “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs”.

The file extension (for this situation, “VBS” – a kind of interpreted file) was regularly covered up of course on Windows PCs of the time, driving unwitting clients to think it was a typical content document.

Opening the connection enacted the Visual Basic Script.

The worm damaged on the local machine, overwriting irregular sorts of documents (counting Office files, picture documents, and sound files. Nonetheless, in the wake of overwriting MP3 files the virus would conceal the document) and sent a duplicate of itself to all locations in the Windows Address Book utilized by Microsoft Outlook.

Conversely, the Melissa viruses just sent duplicates to the initial 50 contacts.

It did about $10 billion worth of harm, quickly infecting systems around the globe.


The ILOVEYOU Script (the attachment) was composed in Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting (VBS) which keeps running in Microsoft Outlook and was empowered of course.

The script included Windows Registry information for program startup on system boot.

The worm then ventures the majority of the associated drives and replaces the files with expansions JPG, JPEG, VBS, VBE, JS, JSE, CSS, WSH, SCT, DOC, HTA, MP2 and MP3 with duplicates of itself.

While affixing the extra file extension VBS, making the client’s PC unbootable.

However, MP3s and other sound related files were concealed instead of overwritten.

The worm spread itself by conveying one duplicate of the payload to every passage in the Microsoft Outlook address book (Windows Address Book).

It additionally downloads the Barok Trojan renamed for the event as “WIN-BUGSFIX.EXE”.

The way that the virus was composed in VBS given clients an approach to change the virus.

A client could undoubtedly alter the virus to supplant critical documents in the system and demolish it.

This permitted numerous varieties of ILOVEYOU to spread over the web, everyone doing various types of harm.

Some mail messages sent by ILOVEYOU:

Important! Read Carefully!!

2001, February – Anna Kournikova

The Anna Kournikova PC worm was a PC worm composed by a Dutch software engineer named Jan de Wit on February 11, 2001.

Jan De Wit made a virus that deceived the beneficiary into opening a message that firmly recommended they would be aware of a look at Russian Tennis Star – Anna Kournikova’s curves.

It was intended to trap email clients into opening a mail message purportedly containing a photo of the tennis player Anna Kournikova, while really concealing a malicious program.

The worm arrives in an email with the headline “Here you have, ;0)” and an attached file called AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs.

At the point when propelled under Microsoft Windows the file does not show a photo of Anna Kournikova but rather dispatches a viral Visual Basic Script that advances itself to everyone in the Microsoft Outlook address book of the victim.

The worm was made utilizing a basic and broadly accessible Visual Basic Worm Generator Program created by an Argentinean programmer called “Alamar”.

While like the ILOVEYOU worm that struck a year before, in 2000, the Anna Kournikova worm did not degenerate information on the infected PC.

Evidently, the creator made the worm in a matter of hours. “The young fellow had downloaded a program on Sunday, February 11, from the Internet and later that day, around 3:00 p.m., set the worm free in a newsgroup”.

De Wit handed himself over to experts in the town of Sneek situated in the northern territory of Friesland in the Netherlands. “When he comprehended what the worm did, he had met with his folks and chose to hand himself over to the police.”

Th endeavors of another virus writer working undercover for the FBI, David L. Smith (creator of the Melissa virus), prompted the distinguishing proof of Jan de Wit and that the FBI passed the data to experts in the Netherlands.

De Wit handed himself over to the police in the place where he grew up Sneek on February 14, 2001, a couple days after the worm was released.

Apparently, and taking after the instances of another PC virus writers, just a couple days after the fact the leader of Sneek, Mayor Sieboldt Hartkamp, made a speculative job offer to De Wit, citing his programming aptitudes.

De Wit was attempted in Leeuwarden and was accused of spreading information into a PC network with the expectation of bringing about harm, a wrongdoing that conveyed the greatest sentence of four years in jail and a fine of 100,000 guilders (US$41,300).

The legal advisors for Jan de Wit required the rejection of charges against him, contending that the worm brought about negligible harm.

The FBI submitted confirmation to the Dutch court and recommended that US$166,000 in harms was brought about by the worm.

De Wit conceded he made the worm utilizing a worm creation toolbox. In any case, told the court when he presented the viruses on a newsgroup he did it “without thinking and without overseeing the consequences”.

He denied any purpose of bringing about the harm.

De Wit was sentenced to 150 hours community service or 75 days in prison.

It turns out to be so notorious to the point that it highlighted in a scene of Friends.

2001, September – Nimda

“Nimda” is “Admin” spelled in reverse.

Nimda is one of the complex viruses with a mass mailing worm segment which spreads itself in email connections named README.EXE.

It influences Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000 clients.

It infects email and sent itself out to email contacts; broke into web servers and infected documents on sites.

In 25 minutes of its discharge, it had turned into the webs most across the board worm.

It seemed one week after 9/11 prompting hypothesis that it was made by state performing artists or even fear based oppressor bunches.

The lifecycle of Nimda can be partitioned into four sections:

1) File Infection: Nimda finds EXE documents from the local machine and infects them by putting the file inside its body as an asset, hence “assimilating” that file. These documents then spread the contamination when individuals trade projects, for example, games.

2) Mass Mailer: Nimda finds email addresses by means of MAPI from your email client and in addition scanning local HTML documents for extra addresses. At that point, it sends one email to each address. These emails contain a document called README.EXE, which may be executed naturally on a few systems.

3) Web Worm: Nimda begins to examine the web, attempting to find www servers. Once a web server is found, the worm tries to infect it by utilizing a few known security holes. In the event that this succeeds, the worm will change irregular website pages on the web page. The final product of this alteration is that web surfers perusing the webpage will get consequently infected by the worm.

4) LAN Propagation: The worm will look for file partakes in the local network, either from file servers or from end client machines. When discovered, it will drop a concealed file called RICHED20.DLL to any index which has DOC and EML files. At the point when different clients attempt to open DOC or EML documents from these indexes, Word, WordPad or Outlook will execute RICHED20.DLL bringing on an infection of the PC. The worm will likewise infect remote documents in the event that it was begun on a server.

2003 – SQL Slammer

Slammer brought on a denial of service on Internet hosts and drastically backed off the internet, infecting the greater part of its 75,000 victims inside 10 minutes.

It brought on about $10 billion worth of harm, quickly infecting networks around the globe.

15 after its first assault, the Slammer virus infected almost 50% of the servers that hold up the web.

Although titled “SQL Slammer Worm”, the program did not utilize the SQL language. It abused a buffer overflow bug in Microsoft’s flagship SQL Server and Desktop Engine database products. For which a fix had been released six months earlier in MS02-039. Different names incorporate W32.SQLExp.Worm, DDOS.SQLP1434.A, The Sapphire Worm, SQL_HEL, W32/SQL Slammer and Helkern.

The worm depended on evidence of concept code showed at the Black Hat Briefings by David Litchfield.

David had initially discovered the buffer overflow vulnerability that the worm exploited.

It is a small piece of code that does minimal other than generating random IP addresses and send it out to those addresses.

On the off chance that a chose to deliver happens to have a place with a host that is running an unpatched copy of Microsoft SQL Server Resolution Service listening on UDP port 1434, the host quickly ends up plainly infected and starts showering the Internet with more duplicates of the worm program.

Home PCs are generally not vulnerable to this worm unless they have MSDE installed.

The worm is so small to the point that it doesn’t contain code to think of itself to circle, so it just remains in memory, and it is anything but difficult to expel.

Two key perspectives added to SQL Slammer’s fast propagation. The worm infected new has over the session less UDP protocol, and the whole worm (just 376 bytes) fits inside a solitary bundle. Subsequently, each infected host could rather just “fire and forget” packets as quickly as would be prudent (generally hundreds every second).

2004, January – Mydoom

Mydoom is a worm that spreads over email and the Kazaa Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network.

It was spread through an email attachment which more often than not had a harmless title, for example, ‘Mail Delivery System’ or ‘Mail Transaction Failed’.

It was the fastest spreading viruses ever.

A €250,000 reward to find its maker – he was never found.

Its point was to ambush Google, AltaVista and Lycos and its peak it figured out how to close down Google for right around a day.

In February 2004, it infected 1 in 12 emails with 100,000 interceptions occurring each hour.

Whenever executed, the worm opens up Windows’ Notepad with garbage data in it.

When spreading, the irresistible email used to convey the worm duplicates utilize variable subjects, bodies and attachment names.

The worm encrypts the vast majority of the strings in its UPX-packed body with ROT13 Method, i.e. the characters are pivoted 13 locations to the right in the abecedary, beginning from the earliest starting point if the position is past the last letter.

Mydoom additionally plays out a Distributed Denial-of-Service Attack on This assault begins on 1st of February.

The worm opens up a backdoor to infected PCs. This is finished by planting another SHIMGAPI.DLL file to system32 registry and propelling it as a child process of EXPLORER.EXE.

Mydoom is modified to quit spreading on February 12th.

The worm will dispatch a Notepad window with garbage contents.

2004, April – Sasser

This worm was named Sasser on the grounds that it spreads by exploiting a buffer overflow in the component known as Local Security Authority Subsystem Services (LSAS) on the affected operating systems.

Sasser made it hard to shut down machines and infected numerous PCs.

Its maker Sven Jaschan released Sasser into the wild on his 18th birthday.

Sasser spreads by exploiting the system through a vulnerable port.

It is especially harmful in that it can spread without user intervention, but it is likewise effectively ceased by an appropriately configured firewall or by downloading system updates from Windows Update.

The specific hole Sasser exploits is documented by Microsoft in its MS04-011 Bulletin, for which a patch had been released 17 days before.

The worm filters distinctive scopes of IP addresses and connects to victims’ PCs primarily through TCP port 445.

Microsoft’s examination of the worm demonstrates that it might likewise spread through port 139.

A few variants called Sasser.B, Sasser.C and Sasser.D showed up inside days (with the first named Sasser.A).

2006 – Leap_A

The Oompa-Loompa malware, also called OSX/Oomp-A or Leap.A.

It is an application-infecting, LAN-spreading worm for Mac OS X, found by the Apple security firm Intego on February 14, 2006.

Leap can’t spread over the Internet, and can just spread over a Local Area Network utilizing the Bonjour Protocol.

On most systems, this limits it to a single IP subnet.

It demonstrated that Apple is not all that safe all things considered.

In the wake of infecting through PC, it looked through iChat and sent every individual on the iChat list a message which contained a corrupted file that showed up as a JPEG picture.

Utilizing the iChat instant messaging program Leap_A spread crosswise over vulnerable Mac PCs.

The basic strategy for securing against this sort of Computer Worm is abstaining from propelling documents from untrusted sources.

2007 – Storm Trojan

The worm is otherwise called:

Through an email attachment, it inundated thousands of computers creating a huge global network of computers enslaved.

Every PC would then attempt to infect different PCs.

Its peak: up to 10 million CPUs infected.

There is proof, as per PCWorld that the Storm Worm was of Russian origin, perhaps traceable to the Russian Business Network.

It was in the end contained by antivirus organizations.

2008 – Conficker

Conficker, otherwise called Downup, Downadup, and Kido.

The cause of the name Conficker is thought to be a mix of the English term “Configure” and the German pejorative term Ficker (English – fucker).

It caused chaos & panic and Microsoft made a prominent industry gathering to counter the virus.

It utilizes flaws in Windows OS software and dictionary attacks on administrative passwords to propagate while shaping a Botnet.

The Conficker worm infected a large number of PCs including government, business, and home PCs in more than 190 nations, making it the biggest known PC worm disease since the 2003 Welchia.

Showed up in 2008 and infected up to 15 million PCs.

Its fundamental impact was to keep individuals from introducing Windows updates and antivirus software.

It downloaded extra code that could commandeer PCs and take personal data.

5 variations of the Conficker virus are known and have been named Conficker A, B, C, D, and E.

They were discovered on 21 November 2008, 29 December 2008, 20 February 2009, 4 March 2009 and 7 April 2009, individually.

The Conficker Working Group utilizes namings of A, B, B++, C, and E for similar variations individually.

This implies (CWG) B++ is comparable to (MSFT) C and (CWG) C is identical to (MSFT) D.

2010 – Stuxnet

Stuxnet is a noxious PC worm, initially recognized in 2010, that targets industrial PCs and was in charge of making generous harm to Iran’s nuclear program.

The product was intended to erase itself in 2012 in this way restricting the extent of its belongings.

The worm is accepted by numerous specialists to be a mutually constructed American-Israeli cyber weapon, although no association or state has formally conceded obligation.

It was the main virus to explicitly target critical national infrastructure.

Stuxnet driver was signed with an endorsement stolen from Realtek Semiconductor Corp.

Overall, Stuxnet exploits five different vulnerabilities, four of which were 0-days – LNK (MS10-046), Print Spooler (MS10-061), Server Service (MS08-067), Privilege escalation via Keyboard layout file, Privilege escalation via Task Scheduler.

Caused centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility to turn crazy and adequately self-destruct.

Intended to self-destruct in June 2012, it was invaded into Natanz by means of a USB stick. A comparative assault utilizing Stuxnet was propelled at North Korea – it failed.

2013 – CryptoLocker

An especially awful bit of malware that made personal infections.

CryptoLocker is a Ransomware Trojan.

It targets PCs running Microsoft Windows.

It accepted to have first been presented on the Internet on 5 September 2013.

It’s propagated via infected email connections and a current Botnets.

Whenever initiated, the malware encodes certain sorts of files stored on local and mounted network drives utilizing RSA Public-Key Cryptography, with the Private-Key stored only on the malware’s control servers.

The malware then shows a message which offers to decrypt the data if a payment (through either Bitcoin or a pre-paid cash voucher) is made by a stated deadline.

It will threaten to erase the private key if the due date passes.

On the off chance that the due date is not met, the malware offered to decrypt data through an online service provided by the malware’s administrators, at an essentially higher cost in Bitcoin.

But the fact is CryptoLocker itself can be effectively expelled.

The infected files remained encrypted in a way which researchers considered unfeasible to break.

Many said that the ransom ought not to be paid, but rather did not offer any approach to recover files.

Others said that paying the ransom was the only way to recover files that had not been backed up.

A few victims claimed that paying the ransom did not lead to the files being decrypted.

Conveyed through an email attachment, CryptoLocker would freeze up a user’s personal files including photographs and reports, and request a ransom so as to discharge them.

Its encryption technique was viewed as unbreakable bringing on much caution and an expected aggregate ransom of $27 million paid in one three month time spans.

In the end, it was halted when its database of encryption keys was found and posted on the web. However, it brought forth various clones that are as yet dynamic today.

Note: – This computer viruses’ guide is only for knowledge purpose and shouldn’t be used for any illegal activities as we are not responsible for anything happens with this.

We hope that HACKAGON provided a healthy knowledge about The Worst Computer Viruses In History. So, if you like this article then don’t forget to share it. With your friends and always feel free to drop a comment below for any query or feedback.

what is tor

What Is Tor – How Does Tor Work – How to Use Tor? This article is all about TOR, a highly secure, efficient and one of a kind “Anonymizing Network” that aims to offer total privacy and hence protection to anyone who needs it.

Before diving into it, the answer to the question: “Why aren’t proxies and VPNs enough? Why the need for TOR?”

As we know, proxy servers and Virtual Private Networks act as middlemen through which we can. For example, visit websites without revealing our identity, location and IP address (In theory, that is). We don’t connect to the website directly and neither the website to us. We are connected to the middleman and so is the website, effectively giving us, the users a dummy IP address that actually belongs to the Proxy or VPN server. So the website doesn’t know who we are – Goal accomplished. Then why are you seeing an article about another anonymizing service? It’s because proxies and VPNs are simply not as easy and effective as they want us to believe.

What Is Tor Anonymity Network & It’s Different?

Tor enables a user to stay anonymous on the internet and get rid of any potential surveillance, location tracking, etc. while using the internet. Read this article to know Everything About Tor: What is Tor? How Tor Works?

Tor or The Onion Router allows anonymous use of internet veiling the real identity of the user. It protects the user from any traffic analysis and network spying. Tor is perhaps the most popular and secure option available for anonymous internet connectivity.

Where It Came From?

Tor is based on the principle of “Onion Routing” which was developed by Paul Syverson, Michael G. Reed and David Goldschlag at the United States Naval Research Laboratory in the 1990’s. The alpha version of Tor named “The Onion Routing Project” or simply TOR Project was developed by Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson, launched on September 20, 2002. Further development was carried under the financial roof of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The Tor Project Inc. is a non-profit organization that now maintains Tor and is responsible for its development. It is mainly funded by the United States Government. Further aid is provided by Swedish Government and different NGOs & individual sponsors.

How Tor Anonymity Network Works?

Tor works on the concept of “Onion Routing” method. In this method the user data is first encrypted and then transferred through different relays present in the Tor network, thus creating a multi-layered encryption (layers like an onion), thereby keeping the identity of the user safe. At each relay, one layer is decrypted and the remaining data is forwarded to any random relay until it reaches its destination server. For the destination server, the last Tor node/exit relay appears as the origin of the data. It is thus very difficult to trace the identity of the user or the server by any surveillance systems acting in the mid-way.

how tor works

Other than providing anonymity to standalone users, Tor can also give anonymity to websites and servers this comes under the class of hidden services. Also, P2P applications like BitTorrent can be configured to use tor network and download torrent files.

Controversies And Influence About Tor:

Tor has been eulogized for the anonymity and privacy it provides to the users who want to bypass censorship, who are abused and traumatized by stalkers and social activists who are afraid of being arrested by the authorities. It has been used by different security agencies to share confidential information.

The NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden used Tor to leak information about PRISM to The Guardian and The Washington Post.

Tor has been criticized for the reason that it acts as a medium for different illegal activities like data breaching, drug dealing, gambling etc. Tor is also used by malevolent people to communicate over the internet while keeping their identity hidden which makes it difficult for the security agencies to trace them.

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has called Tor “The King Of High-Secure, Low Latency Internet Anonymity” and similar comments by BusinessWeek magazine, “perhaps the most effective means of defeating the online surveillance efforts of intelligence agencies around the world”.

Another speculation made is that Tor takes its funding from the U.S. Government which may lead to the assumption that NSA may have compromised the identities of personal Tor users, but the executive director Andrew Lewman has disclaimed any confederations with NSA.

Can Tor Be Compromised?

Various claims have been made to compromise Tor’s anonymity and security from time to time. The most famous are the Bad Apple Attack where the researchers claimed to have identified around 10k IP addresses of active analyze users who were connected via Tor.

 In April 2014, A Heartbleed bug halted Tor network for several days. That was the another compromise done.

Traffic Fingerprinting is a method used to analyse web traffic by analyzing the patterns, responses, and packets in a particular direction. This can be used to attack the Tor network by making the attacker’s computer act as the guard.

The main vulnerability found is at its exit points where the level of security is very low as compared to the rest of the Tor network.

Products Based On Tor:

The Tor Project Inc. has released Tor Browser. It’s a modification of an Extended Support Release version of Mozilla Firefox browser. The Tor browser is made portable so that it can be used for an external media and reduces the hazel of installation. It removes the user history after every use, thus reducing the risk of any kind of cookie tracking. Other products like

Nathan Freitas founded the Global Developer Community named “Guardian Project” and developed this above two Tor based products.

We can set-up SOCKS (Socket Secure) based applications to use the Tor network by configuring them with the loop-back address.

Tor Alternatives:

Hornet is a new anonymity network that provides higher network speeds compared to Tor. There are some of the other top alternatives of Tor to use and they are:

To know more about these alternatives, please visit this above given links.

Winding Up:

Tor has proved to be a great medium for safe, secure and anonymous web presence that can be provided to a user at no cost. Although it is available for a positive intention. But malignant people also use Tor to fulfill their needs. The Tor project has led to an optimistic approach towards censorship and surveillance-free internet.

Note: – This guide is only for knowledge purpose and shouldn’t be used for any illegal activities as we are not responsible for anything happens with this.

HACKAGON Hope you like this article. So, don’t forget to share it with your friends, family & on your social profiles. And always feel free to drop a comment below if you have any query or feedback.

How Internet Providers Get Around War Zones

In January 2008, something sharp — mostly likely an errant ship anchor — sliced into two underwater cables in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Egypt, near Alexandria. Egypt lost 80% of its internet capacity. But the effects were hardly limited to that country. Slowdowns were reported across Asia. Saudi Arabia lost 40% of its national network. Even Bangladesh, some 3,700 miles away, lost a full third of its connectivity.

Why did just two cuts lead to such widespread disruption? The classic, and least expensive, way to route internet from South Asia to Europe is via a vast system of submarine fiber optics running from the southern coast of France through the Mediterranean, into the Red Sea via the Suez, and finally out into the Indian Ocean and points beyond. Many of the countries hurt the most by the cuts relied heavily on this path, with only light redundancy coming in from the east — East Asia and beyond the Pacific Ocean, North America — to protect against an event like this.

And shipping accidents are hardly the only hazards associated with running fiber-optic cable through the Middle East. It’s a very real possibility that an act of war — a bombing or a firefight — in one of the most unstable regions in the world could literally disrupt bulk financial transactions running between skyscrapers in London and Abu Dhabi.

The economic consequences of such an outage are obvious and devastating, and they don’t only hurt big banks. Take just India, with its booming virtual outsourcing sector, enormously reliant on dependable internet. By some reports, 60 million people in India were affected by the 2008 disruption.

Jim Cowie, then the head of research and development at Renesys, an internet intelligence company, was taking notes. “It’s very embarrassing to have to explain to stock markets and banks that the internet is out and will be out for weeks,” Cowie said.

In the wake of the 2008 disruption, companies on both ends of the Mediterranean route began clamoring for redundancy, or the creation of alternative network links from Europe to Asia. And over the past half-decade, a series of enormous European and Asian telecom consortia have done just that, building four new overland fiber-optic pathways to link Europe to the financial hubs of the Persian Gulf and the booming economies of South Asia.

The new pathways are displayed on the map above, which was made by Dyn, the New Hampshire company that manages traffic for some of the biggest sites on the internet (and that acquired Renesys in May). The new routes are faster than the submarine route — up to 20 milliseconds faster from the Persian Gulf to London, a hugely significant amount of time when it comes to automated financial transactions — and also costlier. But ISPs, banks, and other major companies will readily pay a premium to diversify the source of their internet service and ensure that they aren’t vulnerable to future outages.

A Saudi Telecom Company map of the JADI (Jeddah-Amman-Damascus-Istanbul) Network Via

Still, reaching South Asia from Europe by land requires traveling through the Middle East, and none of the new networks can completely avoid regions marked by the kind of conflict that — in addition to every other kind of financial and human cost — could produce a future outage.

Take the JADI network (displayed in the top image as yellow), which runs for nearly 1,600 miles from Istanbul to Jeddah. Less than a year after JADI traffic became available for purchase, Syria broke out in civil war, and the cable, which runs through Aleppo, has sustained chronic damage, disrupting the network.

The stakes of these new networks are high, with their own very present, very real dangers: Syrian network technicians whom Cowie describes as “heroic” literally “roll trucks in the middle of a firefight to repair the damage.”

That’s the most dramatic example. But the other cable paths all face their own challenges. The network represented above in purple is, according to Cowie, in service, though it bypasses the Suez via Israel, a country rapidly descending into violent conflict. The path running through Iraq in orange has experienced difficulties in “coordination and agreement,” according to Cowie, due to a lack of cooperation between the autonomous Kurdish authorities and their Arab counterparts.

Even the so-called EPEG (Europe-Persian Express Gateway), which has managed to avoid major disruptions despite running through volatile parts of the Caucasus and which Cowie calls “the biggest success story” on the map, passes through a newly turbulent eastern Ukraine (and, notably, leaders who have not been shy to threaten other kinds of pipeline disruption).

Ultimately, the only way for corporate and institutional interests to make sure that they don’t suffer outages in the future is to make the sources of internet they buy access to as diverse as possible. That way no single act of man or nature proves so catastrophic as to repeat the disastrous disruptions of 2008.

Or, as Cowie said, “The remedy for all of these is politically neutral”: More cable.

Let’s Build a Traditional City and Make a Profit

Let’s Build a Traditional City and Make a Profit: A better way would be to start from scratch. This means purchasing some land – and we have two options;

  1. Found our own town completely from scratch.
  2. Infill an existing town or city with traditional human-scale development.

Founding our own town is tempting – rural land is cheap, and we have the ability to build whatever we want. However, it has its downfalls – no one currently lives there, and unless you’ve somehow managed to convince 1,000 families to relocate with you without any guarantee of a job when they get there, you will have a hard time populating your town. Let’s also add to the fact we could be building on potentially valuable agricultural land or interfering with some other natural habitat.

We can still build a traditional urban environment from scratch, even without founding our own city. Look around your city – I am sure you will be able to find plenty of suitable locations. For example, take a look at this satellite image of Houston;



I have outlined all of the potential infill locations in red. As you can see, there is no shortage of land in most of our city’s today.

Infill development has many advantages;

  1. You’re not contributing to urban sprawl.
  2. You can utilize the city’s existing infrastructure like fire and police protection, there are already water, electric, and telecommunication utilities, garbage collection, mail services, and perhaps even transit – without having to worry about all of that yourself.
  3. You already have an existing population base around you. It’ll be much easier to attract residents and shoppers that already live in the city.


Most developers looking for a profit and urban planners wanting something ‘better’ than suburbia tend to build New Urbanism;





‘New’ Urbanism isn’t exactly new. New Urbanism is a marketing name for 19th-century and early 20th-century Americana. There really isn’t that much difference between a 21st century New Urbanist neighbourhood;



And this turn-of-the-20th-century neighbourhood;



The only difference is that the houses are newer and bigger now.

Yes, it is better than your conventional suburban sprawl;



But only slightly so. New Urbanism is just a realization that what we’re doing now is stupid, and since we don’t know of anything better, let’s build what we use to build before – even if that was also stupid.

New Urbanism started when we saw old photos of this;



And thought that it looked significantly better than this monstrosity;



So we tried to rebuild it;



And we failed.

Why doesn’t it work? Because these were the sorts of places that we flew to the suburbs from;



The automobile just made it possible. Making the buildings shiny and new isn’t going to change anything this time round.

When I look at this I get depressed;



Yes, the buildings are nice and shiny, but where are the people? All I see are cars. It is not a very human-centric environment, nor very inviting. I would not pay money to travel there or move there without a good reason to.

Previously, I discussed that if you want to get people walking, you need to build human-scale environments. New Urbanism;



Is just a recreation of the 19th century hypertrophic city, complete with wide roads. When we paved the middle and segregated pedestrians from motorized traffic, it became obvious that we had built an auto-centric environment dominated by machines that felt inhuman to experience first hand;



So to compensate for the harsh inhuman brutalist imposing environment we built, we had to flee to our leafy suburban outskirts to feel in touch with nature just so we felt human again;



Building more suburbia is not the answer, nor is returning to the environment that we fled from. We need to build a human-scale, human-centric environment that is warm and inviting, not an automobile-centric one.

The proof that New Urbanism is an automobile-centric environment is in the pudding. Take a look at this New Urbanist neighbourhood;



Where are the people? All I see are cars. This is not progress. Add a few more decades and we will flee from it again.

We have to get out of the ugly habit of building such automobile-friendly environments. Once we make it automobile-friendly by adding wide roads and segregating automobile and pedestrian traffic, the automobile will take over. Remember, we fled from this. The result just happened to be worse, because we did not know any better.

When we break the habit of building wide roads and segregating automobiles from pedestrians – even without having to ban them – we will begin building pleasant urban environments.

Let’s think ‘human-scale’;






The other side of the street should not feel like it is a world away – it should not be divided by a dangerous highway of heavy machinary;



It should feel human-centric – safe, warm, inviting;



We should feel safe walking anywhere on the street;



The street should not feel divided into a ‘left’ and ‘right’ side. We should feel like we are on the entire street;



The secret to building these great warm homely-feeling places is so simple. The secret is to build narrow streets! That is all we have to do.

We do not have to ban cars, nor do we have to start out with fantastic public transportation – all we have to do is build narrow streets like this;



Instead of this;



And we are naturally going to walk. We don’t have to spend more money – we don’t have to change the architecture. None of that matters. All we need to do is build narrow streets;



In a human-scale environment like this, we can save a lot of money.

At a government level; we do not need to pay for the upkeep of such wide roads.

At a business level; if the majority of our customers choose to walk, we also do not need to provide massive parking lots.

At an individual level; if we live there and can do most of our daily needs on foot, we do not need to own a car (or a second car).

That means everyone has more money to enjoy on everything else in life.

Every day, people are spending tens of thousands of dollars to escape this;



And jump on a 12 hour flight to spend a few weeks with their family in this;







What do all of these places have in common? Very narrow streets. That is the traditional way that we have been building cities for millenia. It is our natural habitat. It feels very inviting and human-scale. It is not expensive and does not require any specialized skills. Just build it, and you will attract a lot demand.

It is not about trying to achieve density by building up. You will just spend more money building skyscrapers, and it does not solve the problem of it feeling like a soulless auto-centric environment once you step outside;



Anyone who thinks New Urbanism is the pinnacle of urban design is wrong. Just build narrow streets and ignore the New Urbanists and their wide-road fetish.


Let’s use the example of Cantrell Field Airport in Conway, Arkansas. The city is relocating their airport and selling off the existing airport’s land. I got this map from the city’s website (click here for the PDF);



The red area represents the 151 acre site that they are trying to sell as a single piece of property. The asking price is around $9 million. If I could afford to buy it (investors and venture capitalists – where are you!) I would purchase it. It’s a little over 1 mile out of downtown Conway;




So let’s imagine for a minute that we own this land and we want to build a traditional human-scale urban environment there;



Before we can begin to draw up a plan, we will have to work out a few requirements;

  1. We should waste as little land as possible by trying to achieve a high Place:Non-Place ratio.
  2. There needs to be a variety of wide and narrow roads, and open-spaces in the form of parks and plazas.
  3. The environment should be clearly designed for people – not automobiles, not bicycles, and not transit. It needs to accomidate automobiles, bicycles, and transit – but they should be secondary.
  4. Since we are interfacing with a car-dependent suburban environment, we need to accomidate for parking so people can enter and leave our human-scale environment, but we need to keep as much of this infrastructure out of view as possible to not destroy the sense of being in a human-oriented environment.
  5. We are playing the role of a private developer, so we need to get a positive return on our investment.

So let’s summarize what we want the end result to look like;






If that’s not your style, let’s try something a little more single story;



If you don’t like that architecture, we could make it feel a little more Japanese;



Personally, I like something with a little charm;




But maybe you like modern, clean, high-rises?



To be honest, the architectural style doesn’t matter. Infact, we’re not even going to specify it – just let people build in whatever style they want and let a local style emerge naturally.

However, we want to avoid this at all costs;



Yuck. The building’s architecture is great – there’s nothing I could criticize about it. But look at the overall environment. It’s very car dominated and human-unfriendly.



The sad thing is, it looks like the architect actually tried to make something nice here.


Now that we have our requirements, and our 151 acre site, how much can we fit into it?



We could take the easy option out and fill it in with more suburban sprawl;



But what are we accomplishing besides contributing to suburban sprawl? Nothing.

We could try to build a Portland;



151 acres is starting to look like a significant amount of land. But even Portland;



While better than suburban sprawl, still isn’t the human-scale environment complete with narrow streets that we are trying to build;



Let’s try building a Barcelona instead;



Now 151 acres is looking like it is large enough to fit its own city in there, with a mixture of wide and narrow streets.

Do you see that large green road that’s running down the middle? This is what it would look like;



While the majority of the streets would feel more like;



Do you notice the lack of cars?



We are certainly not banning them from our environment (this would be problematic for emergency services and shops expecting deliveries) – but because our environment is very human-scale, most people would perfer to walk over drive any day.

We don’t have to follow Barcelona. We could build our own Venice;



Don’t like the European theme? Then let’s built a Kyoto;



What do Barcelona, Venice, and Koyoto have in common? They are all human-scale environments. They all have a nice mixture of wide and narrow streets. What else do they have in common? Many people spend their entire life savings just to spend a few weeks there.

Now that you know what is possible, we are going to attempt to build an environment that will pull in the tourists, be a hub for cultural flourishment, an incubator for small businesses, and have a fit populous that rely on their own two feet instead of their cars, save a lot in infrastructure costs, dramatically increase land values, and ultimately – make a profit.

Does it sound too good to be true? Then let’s do it.


We are now at a stage where we need to draw up a plan. Let’s define the major arterial streets;



These are your standard wide American style Complete Streets, with traffic lights, sidewalks, and possibly even bike lanes;



They are expensive to build, so we have to limit ourselves to placing them in just a few major arterial corridors.

Now, it’s time to insert our narrow streets. Ideally these will be between 11 to 15 feet wide, building front to building front;



Before we can draw our narrow streets, we will have to determine our block sizes. We want a mixture of block sizes so that we get a variety of architectural styles. On average, we will aim for 200 foot wide blocks – but we will not stick strickly to this – we want to allow some to be bigger and some to be smaller, and try to avoid exact 90 degree angles;



This may look very alien and chaotic if you are use to seeing maps with perfectly square uniform streets;



But we are not aiming for a sterile square grid, instead we are trying to imitate the organic nature of traditional cities;



What do those narrow streets look like from ground level?



Notice that we are not going to ban cars, but by building an environment at a human-scale, we are going to discourage driving as much as possible.

See the lack of surface area on those narrow streets? It’s much cheaper to maintain than this;



It’s also more aesthetically pleasing.

Open space is still important, so we will reserve a nice 250 x 160 foot park in the middle;



Our park may look something like this;



Is not this form of open space much more pleasant than the busy road?

A park by itself will not do. We also want to encourage a sense of community and culture by giving the people an outdoor space to play in and host farmers markets, concerts, and other cultural events in too. To achieve this goal we will build several outdoor plazas;



Three large plazas will provide ample room for outdoor entertainment;



They are not complex or expensive to build, just pave the block;



Or get as intricate as you want;



But avoid the easy temptation to open your plaza up for parking. Otherwise it will turn into this;



Yuck. We are trying to build a place for humans, not cars. Once we let cars overtake an environment built for humans, we have lost. Our plazas are community spaces. We should be able to have lunch with friends there;



Watch a concert there;



See a street performer perform a magic trick in front of a crowd there;



Not park our car there;



A parking lot is not a community space. It is soleless infrastructure that caters for one thing only – your automobile – and should be hidden from view. It does not add any sort of destination or aesthetics to the environment.

Our final step is to fill in the rest of the land, and sell it off;




Because we are surrounded by a heavily car-dependent suburban environment, we need to interface with it and accomidate for parking. Our blocks that average 200 x 200 feet provide ample room for parking. However, our single restriction is that our parking should not waste precious street frontage.

Never allow this;



It’s unsightly, it’s unattractive – it wastes precious street frontage. It has instantly killed any walkability, and makes our environment look very automobile-oriented – and that is exactly what we are trying to avoid.

In a human-scale environment which encourages walking, there is no need to accomidate for so many cars. We need to accomidate for those commuting in and out of the surrounding suburbia, but the environment encourages them to do as much as possible on foot once they are already here. There is no need for every shop to have enough parking spots for the Black Friday sales rush.

A cheap way to easily add surface parking is to do a European perimeter block style approach;



By building around the outside of the block, we can use the middle for rear parking;



It keeps the environment fully walkable and human scale from the street;



Except for the occasional opening, you would never know that there was a parking lot behind those buildings! From a cross section of the block, this would look like:



And it’s no more expensive to build than this monstrosity;



The primary difference is that we have rearranged the layout so the parking lot is behind the building.

What if that still isn’t enough parking? Then you can simply cover the first parking lot;



With a ramp up to the roof;



And still from the street, you will not see a thing;



A cross-section of this building would look like;



How about a large department store that needs a lot of parking?



Now we are starting to get a little expensive, but if you desperately need that much parking and you are willing to pay for it, it is entirely possible;



Remember, we are not in the suburbs anymore. You can easily have tens of thousands of customers living within walking distance of you – so you don’t need to accomidate the storage room for a car for each one of them. This makes building in a traditional city much cheaper than you think.

If you are a hotel that wants to use the upper floors for rooms instead, nothing stops you from placing your parking underground;



Perhaps we want something other than parking? Perhaps we are developing a mixed use retail/apartment complex, and part of the selling point of our apartments is a safe, semi-private outdoor space?



You now have something like this;



Or even this;



With a little creative use of how we use our land, it is not very difficult to come up with solutions for offering parking and even private backyards, without having to sacrifice street frontage, walkability, or having to transform the human-scale environment into an automobile-scale environment. In most cases, it is not very expensive either – just build as we build now, but put the parking lot behind the building. It only becomes expensive if you try to build a lot of parking – but hopefully the walkable nature of the environment eliminates the need for excessive parking in many cases.


We want to make a profit on our investment, so we will have to budget how much this will cost to build and maintain. Let’s look at our plan again;



We will first calculate our construction costs. I measured 10,373 feet or nearly 1.97 miles of wide arterial streets, and 42,200 feet or nearly 8 miles of narrower streets. That’s a total of 52,573 feet of street we will have to build. (When taking these measurements I rounded up as I prefer to err on the upper-side of my cost estimations.)

Our artertial roads will be your typical wide Complete Streets;



Starting from one side, there will be 10 feet for the sidewalk, 10 feet for parallel parking, 6 feet for cyclists, and another 10 for traffic, then reverse it on the other side for a total of 72 feet – building front to building front. That’s extremely wide! That is also why we are only building so few streets like this (just as the boulevards of Paris only make up a tiny fraction of the streets there.) Wide streets are a non-place, but a tolerable one – so long as we keep their usage to a bare minimum.

The rest of our streets will have a much more human-scale 11 to 15 foot width;



So let’s work out how much land will be used by our streets, our park, our plazas, and ultimately, calculate much land is actually available to develop on.

Arterial Streets (Purple) 746,856 square feet
Narrow Streets (Black) 788,595 square feet
Parks (Green) 38,934 square feet
Plazas (Grey) 57,245 square feet
Available Land 4,945,930 square feet
Total 6,577,560 square feet
(151 acres)

We have an astonishing 4,946,930 square feet of land that we can develop on! We are not actually going to build any of the buildings ourselves, but rather sell that land off and let property developers do the building themselves.

But before we go selling this land off to developers, we need to work out what our construction and maintenance costs will be.

We will use plain brick to pave our narrow streets and plazas. It’s simple, aesthetically pleasing, and we can add any other ornimation (such as benches and fountains) later;



We also have to think about connecting underground utilities, maintaining our parks, and other associated costs. Our plazas also require maintenance, but we can cover those costs by placing them in the hands of a trust responsible for renting them out to make them financially self sufficient.

Our estimated budget works out to be;

Initial Cost Per Year
Purchasing the land $9,000,000
Arterial roads – About $5 million per mile – with a 15 year life span. $9,822,900 $654,860
Narrow streets – About $3 per square foot – with a 50 year life span. $2,365,785 $47,316
Plazas – Also $3 per square foot. $171,735 $3,435 – Handled by a trust responsible for renting out the plazas for community events.
Parks – Construction costs are about $6.75 per square foot, yearly maintence costs are about $1.40 per square foot. $262,804 $54,508
Electrical and Telecommunication Cabling – About $40 per foot for 52,573 feet of street. $2,102,920 Handled by the property owners and the utility company.
Sewage and Water Pipelines – About $60 per foot – doubled to $120 per foot for both water and sewage. $6,308,760 Handled by the property owners and the utility company.
Total $30,034,904 $756,684

$30 million is a significant investment. Still, that is about the cost of building a subdivision anyway – so the price tag should be nothing too shocking to an investor.

I would also like to point out something interesting – notice how much more it is to construct and maintain the arterial ‘Complete Streets’ compared to our narrow brick streets – and those more expensive Complete Streets have a much shorter life span too!

Construction Cost per foot Maintaince Cost averaged per year
Our 72 foot wide arterial ‘Complete Streets’ $947 $63
Our 15 foot wide brick street $15 $1.12

And you wonder why our cities are going bankrupt!

When you start bringing things down to a human-scale, our budgets also shrink down to a human scale. What would have cost millions to pave;



Now only costs thousands;



Anyway, back to our plan. We need to raise at least $30,034,904 to cover our initial construction costs, and at least $756,684 per year to cover maintenance costs. The only way we are going to make money initially is by selling off plots of land. We have 4,945,930 square feet of available land, so it’s simple math;

$30,034,904 / 4,945,930 square feet = $6.07 per square foot

We have to sell off plots of land for at least $6.07 per square foot to break even. Land around Conway sells for anything around $1 per square foot in low density industrial areas, up to $15 per square foot in desirable retail locations. One particular abandoned fast food restaurant location is selling for $10 per square foot – which seems to be about the average price in the area.

Since we are property developers, we want to get a decent return on our investment to make it worth our while. I think it’s fully reasonable to sell plots off at $8 per square foot to attract interest, and we can still get a decent profit from it. At $8 per square foot, a developer can purchase an entire 200 x 200 foot block for around $320,000.

We also have to consider our $756,684 per year maintenance costs to keep our streets and our park in top condition. In many cases, when someone purchases into a subdivision, they are often charged a maintenance fee to cover landscaping and street maintenance. We can do the same, by dividing the maintenance fee among property owners based on how much street frontage they have access to.

We have 52,573 feet of streets. Considering that we will build against both sides of the street, that gives us a total of 105,146 feet of street frontage. Our park and our plazas take up 1640 feet, so that leaves us with 103,506 feet of taxable street frontage. By using simple math again, we can calculate our maintenance costs to charge per foot of street frontage;

$756,684 per year / 103,506 feet = $7.32 per foot per year

We will need to charge $7.32 per foot to break even – but as profit-hungry investors, we want to make some income off of it, so we will bump this up to $9 per foot. If you owned a 200 x 200 foot block, you will find yourself with a $7,200 per year fee. However, a 15 foot wide shop;



Would only pay $135 per year in street frontage tax. That’s not very expensive at all, and tries to discourage a single business from taking up an entire block just for the sake of it.

It’s now time to budget it out, and calculate our profit;

Once off Per Year
Land sales $39,567,440
Construction -$30,034,904
Street Frontage Tax $931,554
Maintenance -$756,684
Profit $9,532,536 $174,870

More importantly, what will the return on our investment be? We will calculate the return on investment as;

(Profit / Cost) * 100% = Return on Investment

Just by selling off all of our available land, we can calculate our initial return on investment.

$9,532,536 / $30,034,904 = 32%

A 32% return on investment is very good compared to other real estate investments. As a long term investment, our ROI increases over time;



In 15 years, our ROI grows to 40%, and after 32 years it passes the 50% mark. All of the numbers I used to calculate this are above – so if you don’t believe me, you can do the math yourself!

If this development was undertaken by a city rather than a private developer, your ROI will be potentially higher because you will also be collecting property and sales taxes.

This is much better than your typical suburban sprawl;



With your $5 million per mile ‘Complete Streets’;



No wonder most cities can barely keep themselves financially solvent.


In my last blog post I discussed ways of transforming an existing environment to make it much more walkable and human-scale, but this time we have built an environment completely from scratch. It does not have to be expensive – what I presented was a comprehensive multi-million dollar 151 acre undertaking – but you can start much smaller. Just look at all of the infill development possibilities around you! I also showed the financial benefits of using extremely narrow streets – they are much cheaper to construct, maintain, and they also last a lot longer.

In the end, I have shown you how to create an environment similar to one where many people will sacrifice their entire life savings just to spend a few weeks in or dream moving to;





We can build this right here;





Instead, we just end up spend many millions of dollars building more of this crap;




It frustrates me how many people just don’t seem to get it.