When it comes to computing, we can all express our frustration at technical and competence be it software or hardware related bugs and glitches and things like that, but there is no doubt about it the nastiest most infuriating aspect of computing is the computer virus. We are not really sure what the reasoning is behind the creation of computer virus but unfortunately, it’s just innocent people that are the ones who are mostly affected.
But the question is where and when did the computing virus come from. Well for that answer we have to go back to 1949 a mathematician by the name of John Von Neumann proposed the idea of a self-replicating program which he described as acting much like a virus from a real world. But it wasn’t until the 1960’s when a group of programmer’s development a game called Core wars which had a rather unique function, it would replicate itself every single time it was run on a computer and consequently it would replicate itself so much that it would actually saturate the computer’s memory. Now what’s really interesting about this story is that the developers of Core Wars also worked on an application called Reaper which was an antivirus application specifically designed to destroy Core Wars of an infected computer and that actually adds some certainty to the conspiracy theory that antivirus software companies actually created the viruses, I am not saying that they do but from this story you could see why a lot of people would believe that. In the 1980’s MS DOS was fast becoming most popular OS on the planet and that’s when viruses really started coming thick and fast. The OS was targeted very malicious viruses such as the Brain virus which infects boot sectors of a computer’s hard disc and made them in accessible and in 1986 we had a major mile stone the world’s first Trojan virus called PC riot. By the end of the 80’s virus makers where starting to realize that the best way of creating viruses wasn’t to create applications that had to be executed but to actually infect system files on a computer and in 1988 we had the Morris Worm which infected over 6000 computers which doesn’t seem that much now but at the time that would have been a lot. Off course in the early 90’s the advent of the internet and email now meant that viruses could be created and spread far easier in fact with the emergence of applications weeds like office and in particular word and word basic viruses can now be written very easily on both MAC’s and PC’s and subsequently they were spread like wildfire. There was an expediential growth in the number of viruses being proliferated across the globe via email attachments and this is when viruses really started to kickoff. Now was time around the mid 90’s that we sadly also started to see the creation of the types of the malicious code we see now a days all the time and those were Macro viruses, things like 1990’s Melissa Virus, Melissa was also known as W97M/Melissa and it executed a Macro within an attached file from an email. This in turn would forward it to 50 people in the user’s outlook address book. It also infected other word files and then emails those out as attachments. Melissa would be followed later that year by the Chernobyl virus, which caused widespread hard drive damage. Than in 2000 we had the now iconic I Love You Virus which we remember very well indeed and it functioned a great deal like Melissa. However, it was much more malicious because it would delete media files like mp3’s and jpeg’s and things like that but also email user names and passwords to the creator of the virus, NICE!
In 2001 we have the Code Red worms 1 & 2 which infected over 700000 machines globally and caused $2 billion worth of damage. Now a days there is never been a greater variety of nasty and perilous applications just waiting to infect your machine.
Adware, Spyware, Malware and Cyber phishing websites are just are some of the challenges that IT professionals and support technicians face on a daily basis. We’ve all seen things like zero day exploits and off course ransom ware, which locks up your system and demands cash in exchange for releasing control of your computer. We’ve even got worms now that will covertly commandery your systems GPU and use its raw power to mind bit coins. Then there are bugs that can be exploited a lot like viruses such a Hard Pleat and Shell Shock which are particularly dangerous if you are going to buy items online.
The truth is the computing virus phenomenon has become a multi-billion-dollar industry both in terms of the insurance that user can pay the investment that they are expected to make in protection, but also in the maintenance fees and repair fees that they can pay to third party tech support companies.
As always be very careful online particularly when it comes to any dubious links that are sent to you in email form or indeed on twitter and never open any questionable attachments.
The worst virus I had on my computer was, that hit my Windows XP badly that was the last major infection that I ever had, one in particular that forced me to do an old-fashioned scrub and reinstall because I simply couldn’t bootup into windows anymore.
The truth is viruses are just an unfortunate reality of computing and want that I wish the authorities would take far more seriously then what they appear to be.
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