Who Invented Computer Viruses?
Who invented computer viruses? The answer to that question has many names. The McAfee, Skrenta, and Morris viruses all got their start in the 1980s, but who was the first to call one a virus? The answer might surprise you. Even if you are a computer geek, there are still many cryptic references to viruses, like the Loveletter virus. If you’d like to learn more about who invented the first computer virus, read on.
In the mid-1980s, John McAfee, a young software engineer working at Lockheed, came across the Brain virus, the first computer virus to affect MS-DOS computers. McAfee was intrigued by this virus and developed software to detect it. He then turned his attention to boot-sector viruses and eventually invented the antivirus program that would stop them. The McAfee antivirus program has now been installed on over fifty million computers worldwide.
The early life of McAfee was difficult and not entirely suited to his career. In his early teens, McAfee snorted cocaine and drank a bottle of Scotch at work. He was beaten severely by his father, who later killed himself with his shotgun. After graduating from college, McAfee shifted to the Silicon Valley, where he worked on new computer hardware. He was working on this when he developed the Brain computer virus.
While the world is still learning about this virus, McAfee’s work will live on in the history of security software. The founder of McAfee, the inventor of the adware program, became a prominent tech pundit and proponent. He reportedly spent over $23 million promoting cryptocurrencies and failed to disclose his paid advertising. McAfee’s Twitter account has been accused of pump and dump schemes, which involve buying large amounts of cheap cryptocurrencies and selling them at a later date for a big profit.
In 2013, McAfee was charged with a serious crime, but it was only a crime related to his work. In November 2012, Belizean authorities named McAfee as a “person of interest” in the slaying of a man, Gregory Faull, who lived two doors down from McAfee’s compound. After authorities linked him with Faull, McAfee voluntarily went into hiding, telling ABC News that he was afraid the authorities were after him. Since then, he has denied any involvement in the slaying of Faull.
Richard Skrenta is considered the inventor of the computer virus. He created a virus that replicated itself in a boot sector, and later named it Elk Cloner. The virus was contagious and infected floppies belonging to many people. In 1982, personal computing was a relatively new technology. Skrenta was concerned about the possibility of computer viruses spreading among people and had a friend loan him his own infected floppies to test out. The virus eventually slowed down and eventually shut down an Apple II computer, and was quickly removed by the user. A year later, professor Len Adleman coined the term “computer virus” for a programme written by Fred Cohen.
A personal computer virus was first created by a 15-year-old named Richard Skrenta. The virus, called Elk Cloner, was made up of 400 lines and spread through the floppy disks of Apple computers. Skrenta became infamous for his pranks, which included interrupting people’s video games with taunting messages. Today, computer viruses are the most common type of malware, but Skrenta’s invention was more than 20 years old.
In 1984, Fred Cohen, a graduate student at the University of Southern California, accidentally created a computer virus by inserting a diskette into a mainframe VAX11/750 machine. After the diskette was installed, the virus spread to other computers in the network. Cohen and Adleman published their article about their virus in 1984. In it, they described the virus as “a program that changes computer programs and systems.” The term virus has become widely recognized as a major problem in computer security, and every infected program acts as a computer virus.
Skrenta invented the computer virus Elk Cloner, a self-replicating virus, but it has no resemblance to the malicious programs of today. The Elk Cloner virus had many negative consequences for computers, and Skrenta’s cousins in Baltimore and a friend in the US Navy were among those infected. And the computer virus didn’t end there – Skrenta’s work paved the way for the creation of many computer viruses.
It’s a little-known fact that Andrew Sudduth was a member of the 1984 Olympic rowing team. He also had experience in computer hacking and worked at Harvard University’s Aiken Computational Laboratory. It was Graham who provided Sudduth with information on the virus, and Morris later gave him advice on how to protect computers. Morris has not yet received a criminal conviction and remains active in the programming community.
The computer virus is a type of malware that spreads from one host to another using the Internet. Unlike viruses, worms do not require human intervention to replicate. They are self-sustaining and constantly scan the Internet for new hosts, launching a copy of their own software. The Morris worm spread far more rapidly than any other computer virus. It began spreading on Cornell computers on Oct. 15, 1988. Morris’s worm had several attacks. It exploited a common Internet service called finger, which was installed on most Unix machines.
The worm was traced back to the servers of Cornell and Morris universities, and the FBI arrested Morris in 2001. His sentence was suspended for a year and he was ordered to perform 400 hours of community service. He also received a $10,050 fine. Although Morris’s conviction was unjustified, it served as a wake-up call for the internet community, which had been relatively sleepy at the time. The virus’ impact was far-reaching.
While Morris’ worm was initially designed to cause destruction, it was intended to expose weaknesses in networks. In reality, it was more destructive and spread faster than Morris intended. Morris’ worm asked a computer if it already had the virus and if so, copied itself 14% of the time. Morris’ worm was the first computer virus to be prosecuted under this law. Morris’ sentence was avoided jail time, but he was ordered to complete 400 hours of community service and probation.
The ILOVEYOU virus was a malware that sent bogus “love letters” to the recipient’s email address. The virus looked like a harmless text file and sent copies of itself to every contact on the victim’s address book. Within minutes of being released, the virus had infected more than 10 million PCs. This malicious software was developed by a college student in the Philippines, Onel de Guzman. His intention was to steal passwords from computer users, but he never imagined how far it would spread. It’s now known as the “Loveletter” virus.
Though the United States government was warned in advance, the love letter virus managed to spread throughout the country. The virus affected approximately 45 million computers worldwide and caused outages in banks and email systems. It also affected major corporations and governments, including stock brokerages, food companies, media companies, and auto giants. The virus was so widespread that Ford Motor Company decided to shut down their email system, and General Motors had to switch to a different email service.
The Philippines did not have any laws covering computer hacking, so it is impossible to arrest the person responsible for the virus. Onel de Guzman has denied any involvement in the Love Letter virus, but he did admit authoring it. A researcher tracked him down to a phone repair store in Manila, where he confessed to developing the virus. In the Philippines, however, no such laws were in place and he was not recruited by Microsoft.
After spreading around the Internet, the Loveletter virus was a major concern. After infecting thousands of computers, the virus sent itself to every contact in the victim’s MS Outlook contact list. It rewrote code in backup files and spread to many different devices. Despite this vulnerability, it did help raise awareness about basic computer security practices. So, when you’re wondering who invented the Loveletter virus, be sure to check the links and the message.
The AIDS Trojan computer virus was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people around the world in the early 1980s. The virus was a form of extortion that took on a digital form. Despite the recent development of cyber crime laws, the AIDS Trojan was not a criminal act in England. However, prosecutors in the United Kingdom relied on the 1968 Theft Act to prosecute the hackers. When the victims realized their disks had been compromised, they became panicked. This resulted in scientists deleting valuable data, including AIDS-related research. The Italian AIDS organization lost 10 years of work as a result of this virus.
In order to steal data from victims, the AIDS Trojan slipped onto disks and spread throughout the world. This virus is now the most common type of computer virus. It was initially thought that Popp’s disks were a ruse, but this was not the case. The scientists who loaded the disks were infected with a digital version of the AIDS virus. It lay dormant in computer systems for 89 boot cycles, then splashed across the screen on the 90th boot. After scrambling the contents of the computers’ hard disks and encrypting filenames, the malware then began to be known as AIDS Trojan.
The AIDS Trojan computer virus was originally created by Dr. Joseph Popp. He was an evolutionary biologist who had been denied a job with the World Health Organization. In 1989, the virus spread through floppy disks and infected computers. It would then encrypt files on the C drive and then demand $189 from the user to restore access. The ransomware would encrypt all of the files in the computer system, and once the user paid the ransom, they would regain access to their data.