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A Brief History of Computer Viruses

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Few terms are more familiar than "computer viruses" when it comes to cybersecurity. However, despite the prevalence of these threats and their impact, most users do not know the basic nature of viruses. In the continuation of the article, we will talk about the brief history of the computer virus and what is expected in the future regarding this common cyber threat.

Self-propagating Program Theory

What is a computer virus? This idea was first expressed by the mathematician John von Neumann in the late 1940s and was published in 1966 under the name Self-replicating Program Theory . A thought experiment, this article suggested that it is possible for a "mechanical" organism, such as computer code, to damage machines, replicate itself, and infect new computers just like a biological virus.

Creeper Program

As noted by Discovery , the Creeper program, often considered the first virus, was created in 1971 by Bob Thomas of BBN. Creeper was originally designed as a security test to see if a self-replicating program was possible. In a way, it was. With each new hard drive infected, Creeper tried to remove itself from the previous computer. The Creeper had no malicious intent and just displayed a simple message: "I'M CREEPER. CATCH IF YOU FUCK!"

Rabbit Virus

According to InfoCarnivore, the Rabbit (or Wabbit) virus was developed in 1974, is malicious and is capable of self-replicating. Once on a computer, it made multiple copies of itself, severely degrading system performance and eventually causing the machine to crash. It was this rate of proliferation that gave the virus its name.

First Trojan Horse

The first Trojan, called ANIMAL (although it's a Trojan horse or some other virus discussions although_cc781905-5cde-13658da-bb3b3b) 1975 Developed by John Walker in In this period, "animal programs" were very popular, which tried to guess which animal the user was thinking with a game of 20 questions. The Walker version was in great demand, and sending it to friends meant creating and transmitting magnetic tape. To make things easy, Walker created PERVADE, which installs itself with ANIMAL. During gameplay PREVADE examined all computer directories available to the user and then placed a copy of ANIMAL in all directories where it was not already present. There was no malicious intent here, but ANIMAL and PREVADE fit the definition of a Trojan: there was another program lurking inside ANIMAL that was operating without the user's consent.

Brain Boot Virus

The first PC virus, Brain, started infecting 5.2-inch floppy disks in 1986. This was the work of two brothers, Simple and Amjad Farooq Alvi, a computer store in Pakistan, as reported by Securelist. Tired of customers illegally copying their own software, the brothers developed Brain, which placed a virus on the boot partition of the floppy disk. This virus, which was also the first ghost virus, contained a hidden copyright message but did not corrupt any data.

LoveLetter Virus

The emergence of reliable, fast broadband networks in the 21st century has changed the way malware is transmitted. No longer confined to floppy disks or corporate networks, this malware could now spread quickly over email, popular websites, and even directly over the internet. As a result, a modern malware began to take shape. The threat area has become a complex environment of viruses, worms, and Trojan horses, taking the name "malware", the overarching term for software with bad intentions. One of the most serious outbreaks of this new era, LoveLetter, emerged on May 4, 2000.

As Securelist points out, although it followed the pattern of previous email viruses of the era, it took the form of a VBS file, not an infected Word document, unlike the macro viruses that have dominated the threat landscape since 1995. It was extremely simple and worked because users didn't learn to suspect spam. The subject line read "I Love You" and each email had an attachment called "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU-TXT.vbs". Onel de Guzman, the developer of ILOVEYOU, designed his worm to override existing files and replace them with copies of himself, and then spread the worm to all victims' email contacts. Because this message was sent to new victims by someone they knew, they were more likely to open it. Thus, ILOVEYOU became a concept that proved the impact of social engineering.

Code Red Virus

The Code Red worm was a "fileless" worm. It was only in memory and was not trying to infect files on the system. The worm, which exploited a flaw in the Microsoft Internet Information Server and proliferated, was doing great harm by manipulating protocols that allowed the computer to communicate and spread around the world in just hours. Finally, as stated in Scientific American, the compromised machines were used to launch a distributed denial-of-service attack on the website.


Heartbleed, one of the last major viruses that emerged in 2014, put servers on the internet at risk. Unlike viruses or worms, Heartbleed is caused by a vulnerability in OpenSSL, a general-purpose, open-source cryptographic library used by companies around the world. OpenSSL periodically sends "heartbeats" to make sure secure endpoints are still connected. Users can send a certain amount of data to OpenSSL and then request the same amount of data, for example one byte. As security technologist Bruce Schneier points out, if users claim to have sent the maximum allowed amount of 64 kilobytes but only received one byte, the server responds with the last 64 kilobytes of data stored in RAM. This data can include anything from usernames to passwords to secure encryption keys.

The Future of Computer Viruses

Computer viruses have been part of the collective human consciousness for more than 60 years. But what was once just cyberbarbarism has quickly turned into cybercrime. Worms, Trojans and viruses continue to evolve. Motivated and intelligent, attackers are always pushing the boundaries of connectivity and code to find new ways of infection. It looks like there will be more point-of-sale attacks in the future of cybercrime. Son Moker remote access Trojan is a good example of what will happen in the future. This newly discovered malware is difficult to detect, difficult to remove, and bypasses all known defenses. Nothing is certain. Change is the lifeblood of both attack and defense.

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