A short history of malicious software
Hackers, spammers, and viruses have been around almost as long as computers themselves. According to some sources, the foundations for it were set in 1949. But actual computer viruses gained more attention once PCs came into our households.
Self-replicating programs, designed to modify computers or viruses got their name in the 1980s when a computer scientist Fred Cohen wrote the code for one of the first programs of this kind. Before the internet, spreading of viruses was slow and depended on people using infected floppy disks or CDs. But soon that changed – and with the help of the internet, viruses have gotten much faster and more malicious.
The motivating factors behind these acts vary. Some were created with the purpose of taking control of a computer and use it for specific tasks, other virus creators want to get their hands on your money or sensitive information (credit card numbers, passwords, etc.) and some just want to prove that it can be done.
Different kinds of computer viruses
The broad types of computer viruses and other malicious software are:
1. Typical computer viruses.
This general term describes programs that modify the way the device works and are capable of self-replication. They need a host program. One example of this kind of virus was Melissa which worked inside a Microsoft Word document.
Worms don't need a host program to run and wreak havoc. They are standalone computer applications that replicate themselves and send themselves through computer networks. They almost always cause damage to the network, but not necessarily attempt to change the systems of computers they pass on the way. An example is the famous ILOVEYOU worm that started spreading in 2000.
3. Trojan horses.
These are programs that are misleading users about their real intent – they claim to do one thing but in fact, do another (harmful) thing. Some will cause damage directly, and others will just create a backdoor, allowing a hacker access to the victim's computer. A famous Trojan horse virus is Zeus, discovered in 2007.
Read Part 2 here.
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