Virus, Worms and Hackers

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Virus, Worms and Hackers

Computer viruses were first widely seen in the late 1980s. They were caused due to several reasons. The first factor was rapid growth of personal computers. Before this decade personal computers were not seen in many houses. They only computers used were expert computers which were locked in laboratories around the world. During the 1980’s Computers started to sell to several smaller business’s and homes after the release of the IBM PC in 1982 [1]. After its launch, personal computers slowly started spreading to businesses, homes and universities around the world.

The second reason was bulletin boards where users could dial up a bulletin board with a modem and download different programs [2]. The most popular programs were games. Users also downloaded simple word processors and spreadsheets. Bulletin boards led to the precursor of the virus which is know today as the Trojan horse. Trojan horse is a program which can trick the user in to downloading it. This can be done very easily changing the name of the file. When a Trojan program is downloaded on a local computer it can do a lot of harm to it. It can potentially erase all the contents of the hard disk on the computer. Trojan horses hit a small number of people because they are discovered easily. Either the bulletin board would erase the file from the system or the people would send out messages to warn one another. The third reason was growth of floppy disks. Many programs could fit into a single floppy disk. Most computers did have hard disks so computers would just load everything off the floppy when switched on including the operating system.

Computer viruses can be very mysterious and grab our attention. Viruses can show us how vulnerable we are to attacks. A well engineered virus can have a very harmful effect on the internet. An example of this is the worms we have seen in the last few years. MyDoom worm which infected a quarter million computers in a single shook the whole internet community. In March 1999 the Mellisa virus was so powerful, it forced many large companies including Microsoft to completely turn off their email systems until the virus could be contained. The ILOVEYOU worm in 2000 had a similar effect. The most astonishing thing is that these worms were very simple in their implementation. Worms usually exploit some sort of security hole in a piece of software or operating system.
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