A Brief History Of Computer Viruses

Let's take a look at the history of computer viruses. Malware such as computer viruses, much like their biological counterparts that attack living organisms, cause damage to software and hardware.

A Brief History Of Computer Viruses

They are basically codes written in computer programming languages that cause other apps to crash or malfunction. This may lead to a system slowdown and hardware failure as well.

Computer viruses have been around from the days of DOS and even earlier, but after the 1990s, they became a potent threat due to the popularity of the internet and removable media.

In the history of computer viruses, Frederick Cohen deserves special mention since he was the one who first used the term "computer virus".

Cohen himself demonstrated a virus-like app in Lehigh University in 1983 that had duplicating features. However, the tag of the first official IBM PC virus is attributed to Brain. This boot sector virus spread through floppy disks and was created in Pakistan by two young computer programmers.

Trojan Horses: Making PCs Susceptible To Threats

Over time, hackers adopted newer techniques to evade system security measures. Trojan horses are deceptive worms that are meant to bypass system security and act as gateways for other viruses. These often mimic the action of legitimate apps, but cause grave system damage once installed. The first ever Trojan horse worm listed in the history of computer viruses was ANIMAL, created by John Walker. However, the most harmful Trojans peaked in the 1990s.

To thwart the intrusion of harmful worms and PC viruses, system security firms launched advanced virus detection tools. However, malware creators were smart enough to make new harmful applications that could bypass such security apps. The outcome was the advent of the infamous rootkits. These use stealth methods to skip detection by virus scanners. Windows NT users were affected by the first Windows rootkit, NTRootkit, whose creator was Greg Hoglund. The first rootkit that affected Mac OS X surfaced in 2009.

Apart from Trojans and rootkits, many PC users have suffered from bot attacks. A bot is a malware that gives hackers total control over compromised PCs. Storm was a major bot worm listed in the history of computer viruses that had attacked millions of systems worldwide.

Concept: The First Macro Virus

Concept was the first Macro virus that had hit thousands of Microsoft Office app users. It exploited macro executable features in MS Excel and Word and was created in 1995.

Secret Crush: The First Facebook Worm

Hackers were smart enough to utilize the popularity of social media platforms to spread infections. Facebook users were hit by Secret Crush, the first certified Facebook worm. However, the Facebook team fixed this infection soon after It surfaced.


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