Tech Info

A Brief History About Computer Viruses

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

Computer viruses were invented for a few purposes: stealing information, slowing down equipment, and disabling entire systems. The date of the first computer virus may surprise you: 1971! Known as the Creeper system, it was an experiment that was able to self-replicate. Here are some more historical facts about computer viruses.

Other “firsts” for computer viruses

The first computer virus for the MS-DOS system was released in 1986 and called Brain. This virus, written by two brothers from Pakistan, was made for copy protection. It worked by overwriting the boot sector on a floppy disk, causing a computer to be unable to start.

Another early virus, called The Morris virus, was essentially made to see how big the internet actually was. It spread quickly across about 15,000 devices in 1988. This was just about the extent of the internet at that time.

A brief look at computer viruses throughout the decades

Since computer viruses came into being, they have evolved to spread more rapidly and be more aggressive in their behavior. Here are just some of the viruses that have affected computers and devices throughout the world.

The Michelangelo virus: This was created in 1991 and was first found in Australia. Interestingly, the virus would not activate until March 6th, when it would overwrite only the first 100 sectors on its host storage device. This would prevent the device from booting up. Fortunately, only about 20,000 devices were infected with this computer virus.

Melissa: This Word Macro virus was the first widespread example of its kind. Like many of the viruses we know today, this one would spread through emails, automatically sending itself to the first 50 people in an Outlook email address list.

The “iloveyou” virus: This oddly named virus was another that spread through emails, hitting computers around the world in the year 2000. Instead of only hitting a few contacts, it would spread to all contacts in a person’s email address book. This virus could overwrite many types of files and it originated from the Philippines. The damage was extensive and fast, affecting over 50 million devices in less than 10 days.

MyDoom: This virus caused about $38 billion in damage, making it one of the worst in history. It was the fastest virus ever and hit individuals and high-tech companies alike. For the big guys, the goal was to shut down servers, while for the general public, spam folders were filled with messages that stated “andy; I’m just doing my job, nothing personal, sorry.”

CryptoLocker: Many people know the terms computer virus or Trojan virus, but ransomware can sound foreign. It is vital that everyone, especially business owners, understand how bad ransomware can be. CryptoLocker, for example, spread through emails and locked peoples’ files so they could not have access without paying a ransom. What damages did this virus cause? The shocking answer is 30 million dollars in only 100 days.

Protecting yourself against computer viruses

Unfortunately, criminals work very hard to disable systems and steal files and money. Even though technology is ever-changing, they do their best to keep up. This is why having solid anti-virus software and other protections is so important. Here are some tips to help keep your files and systems safe.

  1. Don’t go with the cheapest (or free) anti-virus option.
  2. Work with a professional IT company.
  3. Keep your computer updated.
  4. Don’t open any emails that you don’t trust.
  5. Only let employees access websites that you know are safe, or that they actually need to do their job.
  6. Use a backup management system of some sort in case you do end up losing files.

If you need help with anti-virus software and backup management, call Andrews & Associates at (806) 242-1088 today! We offer a variety of Services designed to give you the best in safety and efficiency. If you’re an existing client, you can Request Support from a team member as well.