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Ontario Technoblog

Ontario Emperor technology blog.

This blog has been superseded by the mrontemp blog
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Location: Ontario, California, United States

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Malware history

From InfoWorld. This is just a small portion of the history.

“I’m the creeper! Catch me if you can!” taunted a rogue program called Creeper, written by Bob Thomas, of the BBN (Bulletin Board Network), in 1971. His creation has the dubious honor of being the first worm that spread through many of the early global networks.

The first malicious computer programs surfaced as generalized computing in the 1960s with online games called Life and Core Wars. They were essentially executable environments where each user’s programming instructions tried to live as long as possible before being killed off by someone else’s program.

Fast forward to 1982, when Richard Skrenta, a ninth-grade high school student from Pittsburgh, Pa., wrote the first PC-based virus, a 400-line Apple II boot program called Elk Cloner. Several other computer worms followed, and the Apple computer became the platform of choice for virus writers.

It wasnt until 1986 that the Pakistani Brain boot virus became the first malware program capable of infecting IBM-compatible PCs. It only spread on 360K floppy diskettes, but it had stealth features. Like Elk Cloner, it spread around the world.

In 1988, the Morris worm became the first malware program to spread across the Internet. It used a collection of documented flaws in Unix to do its work and eventually infected 60,000 computers. By the end of 1989, there were 56 viruses thriving on the PC/DOS platform alone....


Here's a story about Skrenta, circa 1985:

"Hey Skrenta," they used to say in the high school computer lab. "Have any new games this week?"

But that was back in Pittsburgh and before CAS freshman Richard Skrenta became mildly famous for his programming mischief. Now his "games" are not taken so lightly.

Time Magazine found out about Skrenta's work and included him in a story in its Nov. 4 issue. Back in March, he made his magazine debut in Scientific American.

All this fame for a program he wrote in the ninth grade.

"Some of my friends thought it was funny," said Skrenta. "Most of them hated it."

"Cloner" was Skrenta's baby. When a disk containing Cloner was inserted into the computer, a "virus" would wait inside the computer for another disk to be inserted. Then the contagious virus would attach itself to the new disk and have its fun....

None of the mischief that Cloner did was permanent. A quick flick of the on/off switch and a re-insertion of the disk would restore the program. The problem with Cloner lay in its name. Cloner would stay in the computer if it was not turned off, continuing to copy itself onto other disks.

There is no immunization yet against computer viruses. So before long, Skrenta, his friends and even one of his math teachers, discovered their disk libraries suffered from Skrenta's plague.

Skrenta didn't know just how his math teacher got a copy of Cloner on his disks. "He said if I would have been there (when he read the poem), he would have broken my neck," Skrenta said. "We were (friends) before that, but he didn't appreciate me much after."...


So what do you do after doing something like that? How about this:

Topix.net was founded in 2002 with the specific mission of providing users the ability to quickly and easily find targeted news on the Internet. With thousands of news sources continually releasing stories twenty-four hours a day, finding relevant news can often be a time consuming task. For complete coverage, users are forced to visit many different sites and sift through a variety of stories that may or may not be relevant to them. Topix.net alleviates this problem by creating thousands of topically driven, specific news web pages and populating each of those pages with only news about that particular topic. So, whether you are interested in finding all the news about your community, or your company or industry or perhaps even your favorite team or celebrity, Topix.net provides an intuitive, easy way to find the targeted news that is relevant to you....

The problems associated with cataloging the billions of pages available on the Internet are not new to the Topix.net team. Previously, several Topix.net founders created the Open Directory Project (originally called "NewHoo"), the first open development directory for the Internet, and now the largest human-edited web directory. This project is now a property of America Online and is the source from which many of the current web directories, including Google Directory, derive their information....

1 Comments:

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