In January 1986 the first ever IBM PC virus started to spread
When two brothers sat down to code a computer virus they can have had little idea of what they were setting in motion. The virus, known as Brain, was released in January 1986 and 27 years later we are still feeling its effects.
Virus protection is now an issue of national security, with countries around the world engaged in shady cyber skirmishes. Creating computer viruses is also big businesses, with criminals making serious cash from a plethora of scams.
But the first PC virus was somewhat different. Brain was the work of Basit Farooq Alvi and his brother Amjad Farooq Alvi. The Pakistani programmers, fed up with people stealing their medical software, wrote a virus to stop anyone infringing on their copyright.
Brain is considered to be the first IBM PC virus, paving the way for the proliferation of PC viruses over the past two decades. Its birthday is unlikely to be celebrated by many.
History of computer security
1988: The Morris worm, one of the first computer worms distributed via the internet, is released. Its creator was the first person convicted under the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
1992: Alarmist and wide of the mark headlines hit the mainstream press as Michelangelo virus scare sees millions of people install antivirus software for the first time.
1999: The first virus to spread itself quickly via email is uncovered. Happy99 was also a self-propagating virus, allowing it to infect computers at remarkable speed.
2000: The ILOVEYOU worm, widely considered to be one of the most damaging viruses ever created, is first discovered.
2007: Millions of computers are infected by Storm which spread by sending emails claiming to contain a film detailing made-up news stories about natural disasters.
2009: Between 20,000 and 50,000 infected computers attack computer systems in the USA and South Korea, including the White House and the Korean Ministry of Defence. Nobody claims responsibility for the attacks but North Korea is blamed.
2010: Stuxnet, one of the most sophisticated computer viruses ever created, seriously disrupts Iran's atomic energy facilities. The cost and complexity of Stuxnet leads to speculation that its creation was state-sponsored.
2012: Another hugely complex virus, Flame, is detected by antivirus companies. The malware is believed to have been created to spy on Middle Eastern countries. Reports claim it was developed by the CIA and Israeli military.
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