In one of our previous articles, we had talked about computer viruses! We had mentioned the way they work as well as the effective ways to remove viruses from your device. Included in the category of malware, computer viruses are a serious threat posed to personal and professional spheres of computing. Once infected, viruses can be a huge issue towards data security, privacy and device functionality too. It’s very interesting to know that how viruses became an intimidating thing for computers. In this article, we will have a brief history of computer viruses.
We will mention the popular viruses that spread fear and the ways they followed.
In Case If You Missed – History of Computer Viruses
Computer viruses are a type of malware that have high spreading capability. Through different mediums, a virus can be spread to different devices or network — the channels range from floppy discs to email attachments. Also, viruses have the capability to spread themselves inside an infected device, which makes thing worse. In short, if infected on a deeper level, a computer virus can cause all the problems for your device, data and privacy. By the way, virus is the first malware to be written.
Early (Academic) Development
As we said, the basic principle of computer virus is self replication! John von Neumann takes credit of first academic-cum-practical work on self-replicating computer software. He mentioned its concept in one of his essays. In 1972, an article was published by Veith Risak associated with the development of a functional virus. The virus, written in assembler language, was meant to infect a SIEMENS 400/35 Computer. There were also some other academic works that simplified the concepts of computer viruses. But the above-said virus is considered only a part of academic work and can’t be counted as what we now consider as viruses.
Talking of other experimental programs, there was The Creeper virus! It too was written as experimental computer virus and is credited to Bob Thomas. Target devices of Creeper virus were DEC PDP-10 Computer and the virus used ARPANET as the channel of spreading. It needs to be noted that both the Creeper and the one by Veith Risak limited their presence into the development labs. It was after some time that computer viruses started getting outside.
Elk Cloner — the First Computer Virus
When we call Elk Cloner the first computer virus, we are talking about personal computer viruses. Elk Cloner was the first one to infect personal computers. It was targeted towards Apple DOS 3.3 and Elk Cloner used of floppy disks as medium of spreading. Quite surprisingly, the first personal computer virus was created as a part of the joke. Written in 1982 by Richard Skrenta, it was the practical joke of the ninth-grade student.
It needs to be noted that, at the time of Elk Cloner, it wasn’t called a ‘virus’. The term computer virus was coined by Fred Cohen of University of Southern California. In his research paper, he had also come up with theoretical virus as well. There, viruses were characterized by the tendency of high replication and thus infectious to targeted devices.
Other Popular Viruses — Chronologically
From Elk Cloner starts the real path of computer viruses, as we seem them today. There were many viruses that did target different devices and platforms, in the course of time.
Brain Computer Virus
Brain is known to be the first computer virus that infected MS-DOS-powered computers. Released in January 1986, it was written by Basit Farooq Alvi and Amjad Farooq Alvi. They hail from Lahore, Pakistan. This virus, made to infect IBM PCs, removes the boot sector of floppy disk and inserts a copy of the virus. Once infected, the virus could is used to slow down the floppy disk drives.
The Morris Worm
The Morris Worm is also known as the Internet Worm of November 2, 1988. The developers had used the Internet to distribute the virus to devices. Written by Robert Tappan Morris — a Cornell University graduate student —, it had a lot of consequences in the global computing and Internet. This developer was the first one to be tried and convicted under Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of United States Code.
WinVir is said to be the first computer virus that targeted Microsoft Windows computers. Discovered in April 1992, it had relied upon DOS interrupts. It did not consist of any kind of Windows API Calls. This way, this virus could infect a lot of DOS actions.
Concept was another popular computer virus that was launched in 1995. By that time, Microsoft Word was popular. The virus was used to steal Microsoft Word documents from the infected devices. It’s the first Macro virus in record.
ILOVEYOU is one of the most noted computer viruses that we had seen in the start of the new Millennium. The virus was also known as Love Letter, VBS, Love Bug Worm etc. Created by a computer science student, it was written in a VBScript. Once ILOVEYOU infects a local machine, image, audio and document files were destroyed. This was one of the most malicious viruses seen in that period of computing. ILOVEYOU had relied on social engineering techniques for spreading.
MyDoom, released in late January of 2004, is considered the fastest spreading computer virus, so far. Once infected, the virus will use the victim computer for sending spam emails. Author of the computer virus is still unknown, but it is an assumption that MyDoom comes from Russia.
CryptoLocker is said to be the first popular ransomware in history. It was supposedly posted on 5th, September, 2013 and had targeted Windows computers. Spread via email attachments, it was known for decrypting stored files. Then, a ransom was demanded for retrieving access.
Tiny Banker Trojan
Tiny Banker Trojan seems to be one of the most dangerous viruses seen in 2016. It was discovered in February and is supposed to have infected 24+ banking institutions of the US. It was used to provide a spoof webpage to user and to get the user information.
How to Stay Protected from These Computer Viruses?
You already know the answer and that is use premium antivirus programs. We have written several articles about it including basic introduction to antivirus programs to tips for choosing antivirus programs. Antivirus programs run continuously in background of your system and keep watch on various programs a activities. It is practically impossible to keep those viruses away without using any antivirus programs. Prevention is always better than cure.
We have just listed the popular computer viruses seen in each five-year period. Obviously, it isn’t practical to bring a full list of computer viruses. So, in every period, there were viruses and it’s not going to change in the time to come. The best thing to do is to use an effective antivirus suite.