Sunday, November 03, 2013
The first big Internet virus dates all the way back to 1988, and it could self-replicate
One of the first Internet malware entities ever (that is, viruses) was developed in 1988 by a grad student named Robert Morris, as explained in on The Switch blog by Timothy Lee today, “How a grad student trying to build the first botnet brought the Internet to its knees”, link here.
In those days, I had an ATT 6300 computer running MS-DOS only, and would soon get an AST Research machine. WordPerfect and Q&A were more popular than Word. Not that many people went online from home, but Compuserv was becoming available at work.
Morris’s virus could spread from one Unix machine to another without much user intervention. In the 1990’s. most viruses were spread by floppies or by clicking on executables in emails. The whole idea of an automatically self-replicating piece of malware would come back big time around 2001, just before 9/11, with resulting DDOS attacks. My own ISP, at the time “virtualnetspeace”, run by a coworker using shared rack space, would have to fight off a DDOS attack in July of that year before getting out of hosting. I do remember those days. The real gurus in those days know how to fend off deliberate packet attacks. They called it "attacking your machine".