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First computer viruses

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First computer viruses

The first computer viruses, as they were, why were they created?
The first known virus, or rather the file worm, is Pervading Animal. It was created in 1975 for the Univac 1108 computer, as a refinement to the previously created Animal game, which was very popular at the time. Distributing programs and files at that time was a very laborious exercise, since you had to record it from one tape to another. When programmer John Walker was tired of such a long process of copying, he wrote a special subroutine “Pervade”. It was launched into the memory of a computer as an independent subprocess, searched for possible directories for recording and, in the absence of a copy of the game, “Animal” wrote it down there.

However, this innovation brought discord in the work of the program, and it began to append itself to other executable files, copying uncontrollably into all directories until the disk was full. The spread of the game stopped after UNIVAC released a new version of the operating system in 1976, in which the game-virus could no longer work.

One of the first viruses found on the computer of ordinary users, which could spread in other people’s computers, and not in the system where it was developed, is “Elk Cloner”. This virus was written in 1981 by a fifteen-year-old schoolboy Richard Skrent for Apple II computers.
The virus spread, infecting the DOS operating system for Apple II, through floppy disks. After starting the computer from an infected floppy disk, a copy of the Elk Cloner virus was automatically loaded into the computer’s memory. The virus did not affect the operation of the computer and other programs, it could only monitor the disk drives. When access to an uninfected disk or floppy disk appeared, the program copied itself. So he slowly infected more and more computers. And, although the virus did not specifically harm the user, he was able to spoil the disks with a non-standard type of DOS, destroying backup disk tracks without paying attention to the contents. Each 50th download of “Elk Cloner” ended with the output of a short poem on a computer screen.

The first network virus is considered Creeper. In 1973 he infected Arpanet, a military computer network, a prototype of the Internet. The virus was written by an employee of BBN (Bolt Beranek and Newman) Bob Thomas. This program could independently access the network via a modem and leave its copy on a remote computer. He didn’t carry out any destructive actions, only when he got into the computer he displayed on the screen the inscription: “I’M THE CREEPER … CATCH ME IF YOU CAN” (I’m the Creeper … Catch me if you can).
A little later, another BBN employee, Ray Tomlinson, developed the Reaper program, which also moved freely on the network and, if Creeper was detected, deleted it.

The first viral epidemics were held in 1987-1989. At this point, many could afford to purchase relatively cheap IBM PCs, which led to a sharp increase in the scale of infection with computer viruses. It was in 1987 that three major epidemics of computer viruses broke out at once. The virus that caused the epidemic, called Brain (also known as the Pakistani virus), was developed in Pakistan to punish local pirates who steal software from a developer. But, unexpectedly for everyone, it quickly spread throughout the world.

For reference.
A computer virus is a malicious program that can create copies of itself, as well as inject its code into other programs, boot sectors of disks, into system memory. A virus can spread its copies over the Internet. Viruses are created with the aim of disrupting the operation of the computer, deleting data or their theft, blocking the work of users or disabling the computer hardware.

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