THE HISTORY OF THE PC VIRUS

 

 

The PC Virus Timeline


In the early years floppy disks (removable media) were in fact the prevalent method used to spread viruses. Bulletin boards and online software exchange systems emerged as major channels for the spread of viruses in the late 80s. Ultimately of course, the internet in all its forms became the major source of infection.

Our timeline for PC Virus history, is as follows (work in progress):

1982
The first externally released virus is thought to be 'Elk Cloner', written by Rich Skrenta. It infected Apple DOS 3.3 computers, and spread via floppy disk. 


1983
The term 'computer virus' begins to emerge. This is often credited to Fred Cohen of the University of Southern California.


1986
Early PC viruses start to appear. One of the first, emerging from Pakistan, is known as the 'Brain' and is a 'boot sector' virus (floppy disk).


1987
The first 'file' viruses begin to appear (largely affecting the essential system file command.com). 


1988
The ARPANET worm, written by Robert Morris, disables approx 6,000 computers on the network. 

The well known (at the time) Friday the 13th virus is released in this year. 

The Cascade virus, thought to be the first encrypted virus, is discovered. is found


1989
The AIDS trojan appears. It was fairly unique at the time because it demanded payment for removal.


1990
Anti-virus software begins to appear


1991
Norton Anti-Virus software is released by Symantec. 

The first widely spread polymorphic virus (one which changes its appearance as it spreads), "Tequila", is released.


1992
Well over 1,000 viruses are now thought to exist.


1994
The first major virus hoax, known as "Good Times" surfaces


1995
The first major 'Word' virus emerges, known as "Concept"


1999
The "Melissa" virus, written by David L. Smith, infects countless thousands of PCs (estimated damage = $80 million). It replicates by sending copies of itself to addresses in the Microsoft Outlook address book. The author is subsequently jailed for 20 months.


2000
In May of this year, the 'I Love You' virus, written by a Filipino student, infects millions of PCs. It is similar to "Melissa" but sends passwords back over the network. 


2001
In July, the Code Red worm infects thousands of Windows NT/2000 servers, causing $2 billion in damages (estimated)


2003
In January the "Slammer" worm spreads at the fastest rate thus far, and infects hundreds of thousands of PCs.




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