By 1974 the very first virus from an unknown actor was produced, the Wabbit (Rabbit) Virus, though understandably fairly uncommon worked like a fork bomb, basically a denial of service (DOS) attack, where the virus continually replicates itself, draining the system of all its compute resources, starving the system and causing it to crash. The following year brought with it the first trojan well at least the first program that demonstrated how a trojan would work. Popular computer games in the mid 1970s were animal programs where the computer would guess from a set of questions which animal you were thinking of, the most popular of these games ANIMAL which was originally transmitted via magnetic tapes was produced by John Walker in 1975. John looked at an easier means of transmitting the data and created a program called PERVADE which installed itself along with ANIMAL. During game play PERVADE examined all available computer directories looking for places that didn’t already have ANIMAL files installed and made copies, so just like a Trojan where a malicious program hides inside another ordinary program to carry out its actions, PERVADE hid inside ANIMAL to carry out its non-malicious actions without the users knowledge or approval.
And finally for now at least as this will likely be one that many of you will remember, “ILOVEYOU” or the “Love Bug” as it was fondly? No that’s not the right word! Otherwise known. Just on the cusp of the 21st century on 4th May 2000 a computer worm was unleashed to the world in the form of an email message with the subject line “ILOVEYOU”, along with the email came an attached file that contained a hidden worm, titled “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs”. The malware which was created by 24 year old Onel de Guzman from the Philippines was quite possibly the most ingenious and advanced virus of its type, the worm would not only overwrite existing files and replace them with copies of itself, it then used all the victims email contacts to send the the email too, and from that person’s email address ensuring that all victims would open the email and attachment thought to be from their friend, family, colleague or client.
The following day 5th May 2000 Microsoft reported that in excess of 10 million Windows computers had already been infected. Luckily for Onel there were no laws in the Philippines at the time against creating malware, however his actions did lead the Philippine Congress to create and write the E-Commerce Republic Act No. 8792 into law by July that same year.
What once started out as a computer program theory, Sci-Fi novel, a test, development or mistake some 60 years ago lead to the discovery, creation and birth of the many different viruses that we are presented with today, and though many of these viruses have certainly evolved there foundations can be found deep rooted in the past.
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