They’re all over the news these days, those sneaky little germs that invade our computers. Just like a real germ that makes its home in our bodies, a virus’s main purpose is to make more of itself. Which can wreak havoc to our software, data, and/or bank accounts. Unlike most bugs that invade our bodies, a computer virus can’t be worked out of the system with a fistful of pills, some soup, and lots of sleep.
Viruses are generally used to perform some type of harmful activity on infected computers. From spamming e-mail contacts to accessing private information. Displaying political or humorous messages on the computer’s screen, or logging all the user’s keystrokes. Perhaps even rendering the computer useless, or completely corrupting the data.
A brief history
“I must confess I find it difficult to believe in a disease of machinery.” Westworld, Michael Creighton 1973
Hungarian scientist John von Neumann, wrote in 1949 about his theory of the possibility of self-replicating programs. This remained just a theory until the early 1960’s when developers created the game Core Wars that could replicate itself. This “game” also lead to the frantic development of the first anti-virus known as Reeper. In the early 1970’s, Bob Thomas wrote the first intentional computer virus, ARPANET. Of course, these little germs didn’t really get too out of control, or start affecting – or infecting – us until the coming of the personal computer in the early 1980’s. Thus, began the evolution of these man-made “organisms.”
Why do they even exist?
The first internet viruses were designed basically for fun. Over time however, they developed into something much more malicious. The computer virus has several purposes now, mainly the following:
–To take control of a computer and use it for specific tasks
–To generate money
–To steal sensitive information (credit card numbers, passwords, personal details, data etc.)
–To prove a point, to prove it can be done, to prove one’s skill, or for revenge purposes
–To cripple a computer or network
And many other nefarious endeavors
Regardless of why a virus has invaded our computers, they are all rather inconvenient at best.
If you have any questions about computer viruses, or if you think your computer might be infected, call the experts at Cyber Express in Boardman now!
Stay tuned for part 2, in which we will talk about some of the different types of computer viruses.