Like viruses that threaten human health, the viruses and assorted malware encountered in the PC world are not exactly visible to the naked eye.

Sure, there’s the ‘physical’ presence of an unsolicited email in your inbox offering sleazy services in badly written English. Or there’s the insidious cargo of a viewable attachment that, once opened, can wreak havoc behind the scenes of a Windows PC… but what do these malignant computer viruses look like?

As if the threats of unseen malware was not enough, MessageLabs has now given graphical, eye-catching form to the threats. Or rather, it has commissioned graphic artist Alex Dragulescu to do just that, rendering various worm, trojan, and virus code into colourful images that resemble the sub-microscopic nuclei of real genetic viruses.

messagelabs mydoom

Dragelescu has previously experimented in music and text visualisation, using his own algorithms to create rich, three-dimensional rendered images. To represent the malware samples, MessageLabs provided him with inactive assembly code versions of notorious malware threats and spam messages. The results speak for themselves, menacing monsters that look every part the agents of trouble and mayhem….

See more of Alex Dragelescu's artwork for MessageLabs...


Discovered in 2004, Netsky is a worm said to represent the most consistent threat email traffic even today. Thought to have been written by a 18-year-old German computer science student


Russian3 is a spam message (Subject line: 'Ever heard that you’re getting fat') written in English, but originating from Russian spam gangs


A self-contained program designed to run independently, this trojan is endlessly variable in order to defeat signature-based detection systems



This malicious link, aka Stormworm, says MessageLabs, has enabled the formation of one of the largest botnets in history, estimated at two million compromised computers worldwide


Ghost is a spyware program, clever enough to record keystrokes to file, and additionally take screenshots and collect web addresses of sites visited


Bank details and passwords are the targets, willingly given by users fooled into thinking they were using a legitimate website. Phishing1 (Subject line: 'Confirm your online account details') works ironically under the guise of enhancing security

All images courtesy of MessageLabs