History of computer viruses

Like any other field in computer science, viruses have evolved -a great deal indeed- over the years. In the series of press releases which start today, we will look at the origins and evolution of malicious code since it first appeared up to the present.

Going back to the origin of viruses, it was in 1949 that Mathematician John Von Neumann described self-replicating programs which could resemble computer viruses as they are known today. However, it was not until the 60s that we find the predecessor of current viruses. In that decade, a group of programmers developed a game called Core Wars, which could reproduce every time it was run, and even saturate the memory of other players' computers. The creators of this peculiar game also created the first antivirus, an application named Reeper, which could destroy copies created by Core Wars.

However, it was only in 1983 that one of these programmers announced the existence of Core Wars, which was described the following year in a prestigious scientific magazine: this was actually the starting point of what we call computer viruses today.

At that time, a still young MS-DOS was starting to become the preeminent operating system worldwide. This was a system with great prospects, but still many deficiencies as well, which arose from software developments and the lack of many hardware elements known today. Even like this, this new operating system became the target of a virus in 1966: Brain, a malicious code created in Pakistan which infected boot sectors of disks so that their contents could not be accessed. That year also saw the birth of the first Trojan: an application called PC-Write.

Shortly after, virus writers realized that infecting files could be even more harmful to systems. In 1987, a virus called Suriv-02 appeared, which infected COM files and opened the door to the infamous viruses Jerusalem or Viernes 13. However, the worst was still to come: 1988 set the date when the "Morris worm" appeared, infecting 6,000 computers.

From that date up to 1995 the types of malicious codes that are known today started being developed: the first macro viruses appeared, polymorphic viruses... Some of these even triggered epidemics, such as MichaelAngelo. However, there was an event that changed the virus scenario worldwide: the massive use of the Internet and e-mail. Little by little, viruses started adapting to this new situation until the appearance, in 1999, of Melissa, the first malicious code to cause a worldwide epidemic, opening a new era for computer viruses.

Source: http://www.pandasoftware.com