Birth of The Computer Virus: The oldest Malware

The concept of computer virus is not unknown to anyone these days. A 13-years-old today will install an anti-virus to his tablet before installing anything else.

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Birth of The Computer Virus: The oldest Malware

By
Sana Hassan

The concept of computer virus is not unknown to anyone these days. A 13-years-old today will install an anti-virus to his tablet before installing anything else. The word from biology is commonly being used in the tech world and has existed for decades. The word and its meaning have evolved over time and different purposes have also been introduced.

Birth of the computer virus
Birth of the computer virus

Misconception around the word Virus

As the software evolved the harmful codes were written for a different reason. These codes had different purposes and infected the files in different ways and different routes. Thus the term Malware was introduced. This term broadly classified all the malicious software that can harm the computer in any way. ‘Virus’ on the other hand is the subcategory of Malware. It is the software that is capable of replicating (increase in number) itself and modifying, which affects the software in a negative way. The other subcategories of Malware include Worm, Trojan’s Horse, Adware, Spyware etc. The virus is the pioneer in the league of Malware.

The earliest Viruses

There is ambiguity around who invented the first virus but all of the stories suggest that it was early 50’s when the concept was first introduced.

The Automata: These were the self-replicating programs that increased their number by continues divisions. This process was similar to the production of a biological virus. But the term was introduced to the computer world until the ’80s.

Core Wars: It was a game-like virus reproduced by division, thus increasing its number and competing with the processing time of the computer. This ultimately resulted in the crashing of the computer.

Brain Virus: Often considered as a first virus, effects of which were seen around the Globe. This replicating virus affected the operating system of the computer.

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Viruses today

Like everything else, the viruses have changed and evolved a great deal. Today, these viruses are specifically designed to achieve certain malicious purposes. These specified viruses have increased the
threat to cyber security. Business firm and intelligence agencies use highly sophisticated firewalls and
protection against the threatening software to prevent cyber-attacks. This rapid development is posing
threats of cyber terrorism globally.

For the domestic user, the exposure to the virus has become a routine. Beep! Beep! ‘Threat has been
detected’ is very normal. The users now prefer good anti-virus to provide protection against them. The
anti-virus industry, that combats malware, on the whole, is flourishing and improving day by day.

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