Malware can hijack your browser settings, slow your entire system, and delete the vast collection of Justin Bieber ringtones that took you months to collect.
All of the above are tragedies in their own right, but they pale in comparison to bringing down a flight full of people. According to USA Today, a malware infection spread via a USB thumb drive may have been a contributing factor in one of Spain's deadliest plane crashes. Investigators believe the crash of Spanair flight JK5022, which claimed the lives of 154 people on August 20, 2008, might have been avoided had malware not prevented some key safety issues from being flagged before takeoff.
It's important to note that no one is saying the malware infection actually caused the functional problems that ultimately downed flight JK5022. Nonetheless, such horrific events are a sobering reminder that malware can have more dire consequences than forcing a format and fresh Windows install.