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20th Anniversary Of Computer Viruses Commemorated 260

Posted by simoniker
from the nasty-man-makes-crevasse dept.
DoraLives writes "Our good friends at the BBC are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the computer virus. So, viruses are no longer teenagers and are now entering adulthood, as 'there are almost 60,000 viruses in existence and they have gone from being a nuisance to a permanent menace.' What wonders shall there be to come, as these marvelous bits of code continue to grow and multiply?" We ran a recent BBC-authored story on the psychology of virus writers.
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20th Anniversary Of Computer Viruses Commemorated

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  • "Celebrate"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ummit (248909) <scs@eskimo.com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @03:59PM (#7436387) Homepage
    Maybe I'm just a grumpy old curmudgeon, but I don't see what there is to celebrate here, or what is about these little bits of code that's so "marvelous".
    • by bananaape (542919) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:01PM (#7436410)
      If there weren't viruses to exploit holes, then holes would not get fixed.

      If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger... something like that.
      • If there weren't viruses to exploit holes, then holes would not get fixed.

        But is there were no viruses to exploit the holes, then the holes would not need to be fixed.
        • But is there were no viruses to exploit the holes, then the holes would not need to be fixed

          uh, that's why the parent post got +3 funny. irony, you know.

          more importantly! if there weren't viruses, how many of us would be out of a job? now that's something to celebrate.

        • viruses and worms are designed to hit a wide range of machines, the intention being to get publicity or attention. When a system is exploited for profit/gain, you almost never hear about it. Even if the individual is caught, you almost never hear about it. Companies don't want their customers to know about those kind of breakins, those breakins affect their stock both directly and indirectly. Directly in that they may loose customers. Indirectly in that share holders may think that the company may loos
      • If there weren't viruses, none of the holes would need to be fixed.
    • I have always wanted a bit of code that would replicate in my system and could randomly try to perform natural windows functions.

      If it didn't do anything --> it would die
      If I didn't like it --> it would die

      However, it would randomly change and replicate until it did something I liked. Maybe it would even grab programs that I use a lot and try to borrow functions from them.

      Things like this are nice experiments for virus-type structures. The virus that works well I would let live and continue to "m
      • Search code could be this way as well. Randomly change the code and have an external program measure the speed of the searches. If the searches are improving, the external program supports that virus line... if it's get slower, then it would kill it off.

        You have pretty much just described a genetic algorithm [felk.cvut.cz]. I can thoroughly recommend this book [amazon.co.uk] as a good starting point for learning about genetic algorithms.

    • With me that makes at least 2 grumpy old crumudgeons then.
    • Re:"Celebrate"? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:20PM (#7436626) Homepage
      Most of these viruses, espically the early ones were examples of expert coding. Extremely clever viruses that were unbelieveably tiny and worked well, taking them apart tought you alot about the sheer genius behind them.

      today, the viruses are copycats or from virus kits or just plain wannabe's writing junk that happens to work and take advantage of huge holes.

      I suggest you actually learn about these buggers, they are absolutely facinating and the early ones are just plain old damned impressive.

      It's like the old Demo scene... amazing things with tiny bits of code.
    • Re:"Celebrate"? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Chatterton (228704)
      Good old virus were marvelous. The one who can put themself into an MBR sector, COM or EXE executable. Who can disimulte themself and trick antivirus with interruption tunnelling. Written in assembler. With polymorphism, Encryption... Yes those virus were marvelous. Not the shit you can have now written by some looser in vbscript :/
    • "Maybe I'm just a grumpy old curmudgeon, but I don't see what there is to celebrate here, or what is about these little bits of code that's so "marvelous"."

      If computers weren't popular enough to have viruses, we'd all still be virgins.
  • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06@email . c om> on Monday November 10, 2003 @03:59PM (#7436388)
    finally leave home and get a job?

    Their mother and I have put up with enough!

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:00PM (#7436397) Homepage Journal

    We'd like to thank the Academy, the little people and most of all Microsoft for making all this possible. Here's to another 20 good years.

    [applause]
    • Wait a minute. That's way too short. You have to thank Melissa, and Ana, god bless.

      And all the folks who double clicked on me, in alphebetical order: Aarron Aardvark, Adam Acres, Audry Acres, Barnaby Acres ...

  • by momerath2003 (606823) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:02PM (#7436429) Journal
    support@microsoft.com
    support@microsoft.com
    supp ort@microsoft.com


    They let it happen; now, they're sending it to your doorstep.
  • by Savatte (111615) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:02PM (#7436431) Homepage Journal
    opening up and unsecuring all the ports on my machine!
  • Scary (Score:5, Funny)

    by metlin (258108) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:02PM (#7436432) Journal
    Whats scary is that this article is right next after one that says Microsoft Moving Into Chip Design [slashdot.org]. Is this an omen of some sorts?

    Disturbing. Very disturbing.
    • Re:Scary (Score:5, Funny)

      by GoofyBoy (44399) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:07PM (#7436495) Journal
      >Is this an omen of some sorts?

      Yes, it means that its almost time for another SCO article.
      • Since the first viruses were made on Unix systems (*is* VAX a Unix system? anyway, SCO won't care), they are clearly derivative works of SCO. And all viruses made after that point have been using the methods and IP of these original viruses, and so they are also derivate works of SCO.

        SCO is right now considering pontential legal action against these individuals, but have in the mean time offered a licence to use their IP, for the low low price of $599 per CPU affected by such IP. This has been nicknames "L
        • SCO don't work that way... would be more like: If you are infected by a virus, then you will be liable.

          At least that could be a way to get rid of ancient worms that still are very widely spread, lets ask for US$ 700 to everyone infected with virus like nimda or msblaster to see if they worry a bit about that. A lot will be grateful with SCO for that.

          In the same line... maybe the first properly called spam comes from an UNIX system (I think it was in usenet history in google), maybe SCO could sue all spa

    • Re:Scary (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bigberk (547360)

      Whats scary is that this article is right next after one that says Microsoft Moving Into Chip Design

      Good point. Electrical Engineers know that microcontrollers rule the world. Now although Microsoft is interested in the gaming side of things, I for one would be terribly worried if Microsoft actually started to get the world to use its microcontrollers (along the lines of Motorola 68K etc.). These core units are found in just about every electrical device you have contact with. I would seriously shit my

  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:02PM (#7436438)
    Just you wait [sysdesign.ca], there's more in store. Except it seems now that virus authors have major financial backing (spammers) and are establishing a sophisticated zombie infrastructure running on Windows [microsoft.com] machines that will cause years of serious trouble. Time to start seriously prosecuting these a$$holes (spammers, virus authors, or Microsoft... you decide!)
  • by xanthines-R-yummy (635710) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:04PM (#7436462) Homepage Journal
    wasn't the first boot sector virus written around 1982 on what was then called the Nova system? i believe it infected the track 0 of the diablo disk drives.

    Anyone old enough to know what I'm talking about?

    • Nah, there has to be one older. I found this [microsoft.com] link. I'm guessing they started appearing around 1975 or so.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:58PM (#7437038)
      I was the person who first isolated the Westwood
      virus. It seems like that was more than 20 years
      ago... but it wasn't. It was 1990.

      I remember there was a lot of hoopla about how
      there was a "Friday The 13th" virus that was
      going to attack the computers of the UC system
      in August of 1990.

      I bought a motherboard and a 10Mb HD from a
      Taiwanese sutdent at UCLA who was going into the
      PC hardware business.
      The HD came with DOS and a copy of speed.com
      installed... I noticed the first time I ran it
      that speed.com reported an odd, inexplicable
      value for the processor MHz.
      After m$ word failed with a checksum error (m$
      products failed more gracefully in those days)
      I compared word.exe to the copy stored elsewhere
      on the HD and found some odd strings. I managed
      to get an almost clean copy of the viral code by
      writing a short assembly program and running it.

      I reported this to the SEASNET folks, and in a
      couple of hours they called me back and said
      "congratulations, you have isolated the Friday
      the 13th virus".

      I asked them to keep my name and department out
      of the press release, hence it became known as
      the Westwood virus in honor of the location of
      UCLA (go figure).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Something wonderful has happened...Your Amiga is alive!"

    Good ol' days.... ;)
  • Put enough people into a system and it starts to behave like an organic system rather than individuals each doing their thing.

    Viruses, worms, trojans are way past the point of being expressions of individualistic derangement.

    They represent the nasty side of the biology of the Net: the fact that any simulated or real ecosystem produces more parasites than non-parasites, and that non-parasites have to spend a significant amount of energy fighting off the bugs.

    Two decades is not significant in itself, but it should be a stark warning that viruses are not going to go away, that the Net is turning "wild", and that we need something other than daily antivirus updates to keep our systems safe.

    • They represent the nasty side of the biology of the Net: the fact that any simulated or real ecosystem produces more parasites than non-parasites, and that non-parasites have to spend a significant amount of energy fighting off the bugs.

      The difference here is that we, as people, have an almost unlimited power, as compared to our physical biological ecosystem(s).

      Our ability to alter the fabric of i-space (dynamic network reconfigurations, recompilable open-source megastructures, ...) provides somewhat

      • ...we, as people, have an almost unlimited power

        For good, or evil. The bugs in your stomach took many million years to go from deadly to cooperative, and they don't preclude a zillion other bugs that see you as a walking buffet.

        Our physical biological ecosystems represent 3 billion years of massively parallel real-time calculations. What happens in the natural world is not particularly 'inefficient' or 'limited', it's just the conclusion of long and unrelenting application of natural laws.

        What we're s
        • So, my long-winded conclusion is that our systems do not need DRM, they need to get out and date.

          Heh, well said. Sex is definitely a proven method of shuffling defenses that allows genetic patterns to propogate -- by staying ahead of the competition in a competitive system.

          You named two faces of the future: "total and utter chaos, continuous warfare" and "a balanced system obeying natural laws". You call them "the same thing, two points of view." I agree with that observation, but there is more to

    • When viruses write themselves, then they will be expressions of the organic nature of the internet.
  • XBox viruses? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 3Suns (250606) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:05PM (#7436478) Homepage
    Hmm, I just thought of something when looking at the top 2 stories... Why aren't there any XBox viruses? It seems like a prime target for worms, with internet connectivity via XBox Live, a well-published interface for firmware hacking via software, a homogenous monoculture of both hardware and software, not to mention probably dozens of well-known vulnerabilities from its use of Windows and DirectX alone. Is there anything special about the XBox that is protecting it more than PCs from a plague of viruses?

    • Re:XBox viruses? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeedo (624414)
      Yes, unlike windows it doesnt have any ports open by default.
    • You just HAD to go and give them ideas, didnt you?

      Now we're all going to be flooded by worms/viruses from zombie X-boxes.

      I'll remember to blame YOU for this.
    • There's a patent on XBox viruses, so you probably won't see any until the patent expires in 2018.
    • Simple: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KalvinB (205500)
      Joe Script Kiddie can't write code for an X-Box. Yet.

      There's also not much to gain since Joe Home User won't be putting anything on the X-Box that JSK would want.

      The virus would also have to wedge itself permanently into the system. Otherwise a simple press of the reset button and *poof* cured.

      What do you do when your gaming system acts up?

      Reset. Console don't get viruses because it's (virtually) impossible by design to make any permanent effects. All Nintendo systems are immune because the system do
      • Re:Simple: (Score:3, Informative)

        by donutello (88309)
        Console don't get viruses because it's (virtually) impossible by design to make any permanent effects. All Nintendo systems are immune because the system doesn't depend on writable media. Worst that could happen is that your memory card gets fried. But that doesn't affect any of your games or the system itself.

        I believe that's not true for the XBox which actually has a HD and I believe you can update your XBox via XBox Live.
    • OMG!!!

      This just came to me. What if Xbox is only a prelude to DRM based computing? What if the next Windows only accepts Signed Code, and will only run on DRM HW?

      Talk about Monopolies!
  • Journalists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doomrat (615771) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:08PM (#7436497) Homepage

    "there are almost 60,000 viruses in existence"

    Why do journalists insist on sticking poorly researched figures in a writeup? Do they think that this somehow makes it all seem more credible? This number is clearly just a count from a virus checker's definition file summary. I bet they failed to include or even comprehend the fact that viruses are not a Windows only thing - heck, game instructions for the Amiga would insist that you hard booted your machine to get rid of potentially evil RAM content type stuff.

    • I can clear this up. See, it was supposed to say "there are almost 60,000 copies of viruses in existence on people's machines ".

      I think they also got the number wrong, it's missing several 0's. It should be something like "six hundred mega-zillion", or some other gigantic number that I would write out if I knew how many 0's to add.
  • The last time a virus inconvenienced me was back when I brought an ex-display A5000 with a collection of 200 viruses on it (according to the virus checker - never did get them all I think).

    However, I get haraased by viruses on a daily basis... as part of my free geek tech support that people assume I run. In my opinion I wish viruses would totally trash hard disks as then I could just tell people to buy a Mac or install Linux for them instead rather than being forced to clean up - a long and painful proces
  • Once and for all (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigjnsa500 (575392) <bigjnsa500NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:10PM (#7436518) Homepage Journal
    Once and for all I'd like to see a breakdown of what systems these virus' go after. I wanna know how many AIX, how many Windows, SCO, DOS, OS 8-10, etc.. these things are meant for, you know, the whole schabang.

  • by Alien54 (180860) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:12PM (#7436537) Journal
    I am reminded of the Babylon 5 Episode where the Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollarri has offended someone he should not, resulting in his room and accounts being molested by some sort of Computer Demon, which proceeds to place all the music he hates, messing with the enviromental controls (including odors) and even messing with all of his communications and financial accounts. (episode synopsis here [midwinter.com])

    This equates to artificially intelligent versions of viruses, complete with very sophisticated capabilities. A script kiddies delight. Of course, properly written, it could be dangerous to play with, taking out a few script kiddy systems in the process.

    (imagine demonic voices coming out of a system - "Who dares summon me?")

    • > imagine demonic voices coming out of a system - "Who dares summon me?"

      Imagine? Hell, my PCs have already been possessed three times. It asks where I want to go today, which freaks me out -- Why does my computer want to know where I'm going!?!?!? Luckily, I know just what to do.
      I splash Holy Water all over it. I know it works because the demon emits smoke, fire, and sparks in his death throes. Unfortunately, the PCs never work after exorcism, but I don't care, as long as that demon is dead/banishe
  • Viruses and OS X (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pyro226 (715818) <Pyro226 AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:14PM (#7436549) Journal
    Because of the regular virus infections that take down half of the network at my Highschool (half of the computers are Macs, the rest are windows), all students that want to bring in laptops have to go the the computer lab and get a copy of Norton Antivirus installed. This rule applies to both Mac and Windows computers, despite the fact that we haven't gotten any Mac viruses. Because of this my friend got a copy of Norton on his nice new Powerbook.

    Now the point of my story - My friend looked into exactly what Norton was checking for, and it turns out that almost half of the viruses it was checking for were actually Microsoft Word macros. Now, I don't know that much about Word macros, but I'm assuming that most of the ones that would mess up a Windows box are different from those that would mess up an OS X box. So before anyone says that virus only show up for windows because it is the most popular, also realize that Micro$oft can't even write a secure word processor.

    • Actually, there are no (that I know of) Mac-specific MS Word macro viruses. However, they are still worth checking for on the Mac, for two reasons. First, although the macro virus probably won't work completely as it should on the Mac, often it can work well enough to at least self-replicate. Second, even if it can't, scanning for them still prevents an unsuspecting Mac user from passing on the virus to a Windows-using friend.
    • Now, I don't know that much about Word macros, but I'm assuming that most of the ones that would mess up a Windows box are different from those that would mess up an OS X box.

      You're missing half of the point.

      You want your OS X virus scanner to identify those Windows-based Word macro viruses, even if they can't affect your Apple, so that they cannot affect other, Windows-based machines, when you pass that document along to someone else.

      Without that virus check, you may not be susceptible to Word macro vi
    • So before anyone says that virus only show up for windows because it is the most popular

      This has always sounded like a bogus argument to me. Because more Linux boxen are servers in important roles and because the Linux internals are out there for everyone to see, Linux ought to be a more appealing target for virus writers except that it is more fundamentally secure than Windows. Windows is a more popular target because it is so easy to hijack, not because it is more popular.

      also realize that Micro$oft c
    • almost half of the viruses it was checking for were actually Microsoft Word macros.

      Only half? With the latest version, it's around 95%.
    • So before anyone says that virus only show up for windows because it is the most popular, also realize that Micro$oft can't even write a secure word processor.

      Tell me, if Linux users regularly sent perl/python/[scripting language of choice] code integrated with OpenOffice to eachother, and expected it to be run without having a clue of what it does, how many similar viruses would there be?

      The problem is what it is trying to be, which is far more than a word processor. The macros/VB scripts try to be some
      • *Tell me, if Linux users regularly sent perl/python/[scripting language of choice] code integrated with OpenOffice to eachother, and expected it to be run without having a clue of what it does, how many similar viruses would there be?*

        do windows users really do this?

        no, really, how usual it is that those macros are used in static word docs for anything useful?

  • by danigiri (310827) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:14PM (#7436554)
    A little tear streaked down on my cheek! O' the good ole' days!!!

    Nowadays, with the advent of MacOSX (chugging along, thanks) and Linux, these little critters are a thing of the past....

    Oh! You mean that they aren't exctinct like the ill-fated dinosaucers!?!? Geez! You mean they only run on MS Windows! You kidding? And to help them procreate and run rampant like in the ancient days, uncle Bill leaves the ports open??? Good 'ncle Bill!

    PS: before the hordes of trolls and uninformed bots advocating the alleged security-via-obscurity of MacOSX come in by the legion, please do a google and a slashdot search (yes it even was published here) on PowerPC shell-codes, thank you. After having read and thouroughly understood the ample PDF's, come back and dare to post.
    SPOILER: the CS library next to you surely has a publicily available wrinkled PowerPC assembly and arch book for you, go read them.

  • Wait for it..

    Viri! Virii! Viruses! Viren! Viris, viriis, virexies, virusenixien!

    Okay, now there's no need for anymore of that.
  • I would have sworn i read that the first "virus" was a gentleman that set his computer to keep re-submitting a print/andor/processing job- and over the weekend it had replicated his request 20k times... bogging down the entire mini system...
  • Does this strike anyone else how ironic that the first program to be infected with a virus was called 'VD' ?

  • They must be only counting distinct instances, because I am certain there are more than 60,000 total viruses (including variations). Doesn't mcAfee's (sp?) virus protector claim to protect against something like 300,000 different viruses?
    Are they not counting trojans, worms, and the other ancillary definitions of malicious programs?
  • Viruses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TrippTDF (513419) <hiland.gmail@com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:20PM (#7436625)
    I work in a design office where most people use Mac OS 10.2. I swear to God, now matter how many times I show people virus stats, or point them to articles about Macs and viruses, the SECOND there is something wonky going on, they call scream that they have a virus.

    • I work in a design office where most people use Mac OS 10.2. I swear to God, now matter how many times I show people virus stats, or point them to articles about Macs and viruses, the SECOND there is something wonky going on, they call scream that they have a virus.

      Just tell that it is BSD dying!
      • Just tell that it is BSD dying!

        Christ, throwing out a technical term to these people is like dangling a fake steak in front of a dog. He wants it, thinks he needs it, but when he gets it, he discovers he has no idea what it is at all.

        These are people I've had to explain the concept of the megabyte to.
  • by Strange Ranger (454494) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:21PM (#7436628)
    > there are almost 60,000 viruses in existence

    So at this rate, how long until the virus definition files for your AV software are so big and so frequent that you need broadband just to stay updated enough to maintain a reasonable level of protection?
    How long until it takes gigs of storage space to store them all?

    Wonder if Symantec, McAfee, etc., will offer a remote storage service in the future? Does everybody really need to store the same list of virus definitions on C: ?

    Are virus definitions the future of AV or will heuristics and other "AI" get good enough in the foreseeable future that the one-off approach of definitions will become obsolete?
    • Does everybody really need to store the same list of virus definitions on C: ?

      Yes. Someone mentioned that McAfee Clinic stores virus definitions on the server. I don't really know what he means by that, but it has to at least store the signatures and an ID number for each detectable virus on the local machine. (Once it knows "you have virus ID 0xdeadbeef", it can request details and removal code from the server.) The alternative is to send all your hard drive contents to them to check every time you run t

  • I think the whole thing was a sideways jab at hackers:

    While virus writers are usually socially adept, many hackers are not.

    That's the only line that really stuck out to me in this story... If you read on, however, it looks like they're talking about crackers of sorts. Any idea on who they're trying to insult here?
  • Ah, Cascade [f-secure.com], which caused the letters on the DOS text screen to tumble down to the bottom. Not the first virus, and not the most damaging virus, but certainly one of the more amusing ones ;-)
  • by alispguru (72689) <bane&gst,com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:35PM (#7436740) Journal
    Don't know about viruses, but the first computer worms (as in programs that dynamically spread themselves across networks) were created at Xerox PARC in 1978. See here [xerox.com] (scroll down to "1978") or here [greyowltutor.com] for details.
    • Fred Cohen is the self-proclaimed father of computer viruses. Any time you see a story about how "Fred Cohen wrote the first computer virus," you can be sure that the only expert the reporter talked to was, you guessed it, Fred Cohen.
  • A person found guilty of writing a virus gets a death sentence. I'm still undecided on whether it's stoning or shoving a live snake up their ass but that's a trivial detail.

    I so seriously hate those guys. If a button that caused all their heads to explode appeared before me no power in the universe could prevent me from pressing it. Repeatedly.
  • "When you see a complex virus," she said, "it's come out of the hacking community." In her experience many malicious hackers have a borderline criminal view of the world and do not share mainstream ethical norms.

    evil evil hackers. Someone should track them all down. Maybe some company could hire bounty hunters.

    Superman theme comes on Wait look up in the router
    It's a packet
    It's a flame
    Superman theme dies out
    Oh damnit it's just another Microsoft flaw

    my bad

  • by ciurana (2603) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:46PM (#7436879) Homepage Journal

    Unfortunately I cannot find a web resource for it, but the original article appeared in Computers and Security. The article includes source code in a cross between pseudo-code and a shell command language.

    The original article is:

    Computer Viruses Theory and Experiments
    Fred Cohen
    Computers and Security no. 6 (1987)
    Pages 22-35
    Elsevier Science Publishers, BV (North-Holland)

    This article was followed by a plethora of misguided "containment" articles also in Computers & Security. Cohen proved them wrong again in:

    Computational Aspects of Computer Viruses
    Fred Cohen
    Computers & Security no. 8 (1989)
    Pages 325-344
    Elsevier Science Publishers, Ltd.

    As an aside, I read that Mr. Cohen had to wait several years before being able to publish his papers because not a single publication in the US would print his articles. The first article is very entertaining and instructional.

    Cohen's first computer virus pseudo-code:
    program virus :=
    { 1234567;

    subroutine infect-executable :=
    { loop: file = random-executable;
    if first-line-of-file = 1234567
    then goto loop;
    prepend virus to file;
    }

    subroutine do-damage :=
    { whatever damage is desired }

    subrutine trigger-pulled :=
    { return true on desired conditions }

    main-program :=
    { infect-executable;
    if trigger-pulled then do-damage;
    goto next;
    }
    next: } // rest of the infrected program

    (If I have time to scan them, I'll post a link to page scans of these articles; right now I have too much work.)

    Cheers,

    Eugene
  • And i thought DOS 1.0 was released in August 1981.
  • BITNET was IBM's RSCS network, pre-TCP/IP. Back in the day, this was the Internet, no joke. BITNET got completely whacked by a virus back around 79 or 80(?).

    Around Xmas, someone wrote a script that displayed a pretty Xmas tree ... then mailed itself to everyone in your address book. (Sound familiar?)

    Dropped all of BITNET like a stone for days.
  • But there is definitely a predecessor to "VD": The Elk Cloner Virus. Showed up on the Apple II, and the message would appear after 50 resets of the disk. It would infect any disk put in where you did a CATALOG of that disk.

    There is a webpage dedicated to it (with source!) at this location [skrenta.com].

    "Elk Cloner: The program with a personality"


    It will get on all your disks
    It will infiltrate your chips
    Yes it's Cloner!

    It will stick to you like glue
    It will modify ram too
  • by pb (1020)
    Dear BBC,

    Next time you do an article about virus writing, would you care to mention how Microsoft lowered the bar for virus writers by creating a simplistic macro system with no security and way too much power, (for a word processor, no less!) and has since done nothing to fix this systemic flaw in their products?

    How about a little credit where credit is due here, or a little investigative reporting? You could run 'controversial' stories with headlines like "Do users have a right to expect secure software
  • >The emergence of Brain kicked off lots of other viruses such as Lehigh, Jerusalem, Cascade and Miami.

    I was a student consultant at the Lehigh University computer center (Bethlehem PA, USA) in 1986 when the "Lehigh" virus surfaced. We called it PC-AIDS and told people to wear their "floppy condoms" (write protect tape). A few consultants (Loren Keim et al) wrote the antivirus program for it.

    As far as I know, this was the first virus to get national attention. A letter from our center's director was
  • Probably a decade ago I was involved in a discussion about the etymology of computer viruses.

    I didn't know who wrote the first one, but I'd written one in I believe the fall of 1984 (could have been that winter). Not that I thought I was first, but it was at least pretty early. Nobody had heard the words "computer virus" before, and I certainly didn't use them. I called it a "self-replicating program." In my version I hooked the command interpreter for Apple DOS's "catalog" command and made it copy it

  • Almost every year since 2000 has seen the unleashing of a virulent program that uses the net to travel.

    Is anybody else bothered by this statement? "Almost every year"? I can certainly find hundreds of examples for each year.

  • What about the PET virus I wrote in 1981?
    ---
    "Your computer has been infected by a virus.
    Please place a blank cassette in tape #1 and press play and record.

    When finished, please mail this tape to everyone in your address book who has a PET computer."
    ---
    Mind you it never spread very far..
    • 10 print chr$(12)
      20 print "Your computer has been infected by a virus!"
      30 print "Please place a blank cassette in tape deck # 1 and press play and record."
      40 print "When finished, please mail this tape to everyone";
      50 print " in your address book who has a PET computer."
      60 save "I LUV U",1

      ----
      I'll now wait for the police to call..
  • heard about the concept of the computer virus?

    Wasn't that one of the coolest days ever? It was like Sci-Fi come to life!

    Of course, it became an annoyance, but I still think the idea is pretty darned interesting. If somebody was writing about our world as a piece of speculative fiction, (and this is indeed what our world seems like most of the time to me, especially today), then the computer virus was probably one of the more inventive and award-winning ideas which pushed the book onto the best-seller li

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. -- Robert Benchley

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