How computer viruses evolved
Computer viruses multiply exponentially. According to expert estimates, from 2010 to 2014, the number of new identifiable species increased almost 40 times and exceeded 10 thousand items. In total in the world more than seven millions kinds of computer "infection" circulate.
It all started not so big. Almost 30 years ago - in 1986 - the first widely spread malware for personal computers (PCs), the Brain virus, was created. It was intended for IBM-compatible computers, the most popular in the then PC market. The Brain epidemic swept the world in 1987-1988. This is the first case of multiple destruction of personal computers by malware.
If you follow the evolution of programs created for nearly 30 years to harm personal computing devices, you can see how much the viruses themselves have changed, and their goals, and the methods of “work”.
In professional language, computer viruses are a special kind of malicious software.characterized by the ability to create their own copies and distribute them through various communication channels or on different physical media. Another feature of this virtual microfauna is the ability to be embedded in the code of other programs. The result of the “life activity” of viruses is a disruption of the programs installed on a computer, deletion or invalidation of the information stored there, blocking access to it, or even damage to the computer’s hardware.
The name “viruses” this type of program has earned precisely for its ability to “multiply” and spread from computer to computer, just as their living “relatives” do in a biological environment.
Virtual viruses have even recently acquired the ability to self-modify, which makes them even more similar to the biological microworld.
The first among the harmful
Specialists of the company ESET at the request of "Tapes.ru" identified in the muddy stream of malicious software "individuals", the most remarkable in terms of the qualities of their harmfulness and its degree.
The first in this series is the already mentioned Brain. Viruses for Apple computers appeared earlier, but at that time it was a niche product, not widely spread.And Brain, created for the IBM PC, caused the first ever computer epidemic: 18,000 devices were infected with it, which by today's standards is not so much, but then it became very unpleasant news.
Soon, in 1988, the world found out about the so-called Morris worm, the in-the-wild network worm (that is, it was discovered when it spread on the network, in this case in ARPANET). He has already infected tens of thousands of PCs and caused real financial damage (by some estimates, $ 96 million).
In 1991, the Michelangelo program was born - a classic example of a destructive virus that removes all data from a computer hard drive.
And then the malware began to not only arrange all sorts of virtual mischief for users, but also engage in theft or extortion of real money.
The OneHalf virus, created in 1994, is a prototype of modern encryptors requiring a cash redemption for decrypting files on their infected PCs.
In 1997, AOL-Trojans and phishing were born - methods of encouraging users to cheat on certain actions that lead, ultimately, to losing money. This method of fraud is still flourishing, and it all began with the theft of access codes to America Online by Trojans.
The proliferation of the Melissa program in 1999 led to large financial losses for companies (about $ 100 million) due to the massive outage of corporate mail servers.
The CommWarrior virus itself was harmless, but it turned out to be the forerunner of mobile viruses that steal data (including online banking), sign up a victim for paid services, and so on. Discovered in 2005.
Then the viruses began to live "colonies" - in the networks for automatic distribution (botnets). The largest botnet Conficker appeared in 2008 and became widely known due to the mass distribution, durability and algorithm that prevents its detection.
The first really (and successfully) used cyber weapon was recorded in 2010 - the Stuxnet program. So computer viruses have the opportunity to destroy physical objects with systems connected to the means of digital control.
Since 2013, cybercriminals have become more and more interested in online banking users and are becoming more professional in circumventing banking cyber defense. Trojan Hesperbot, born in 2013, is a sample of malware specifically designed to overcome the protection of banking and other financial services.
And finally, Windigo is an unprecedented malicious virus campaign in terms of the complexity of the software and infrastructure of cybercriminals involved. By the way, its organizers and operators have not yet been found.
Unfortunately, there is no doubt that in a couple of years this list will be replenished with new "outstanding" representatives of the viral tribe and new sophisticated methods of their introduction and distribution. Computer Ebola, apparently, can not be avoided.