What is Malware.

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Malware is short for “malicious software.” This is an umbrella term that describes any malicious program or code that is harmful to systems. Malware is typically delivered over a network, which infects, explores, steals or conducts virtually any behavior an attacker wants. Malware programs are designed to infiltrate and damage computers without the users consent. “Malware” is the general term covering all the different types of threats to user’s computer safety such as viruses, spyware, worms, Trojans, rootkits and so on.

History of Malware:

The first academic work on the theory of self-replicating computer programs was done in 1949 by John von Neumann.  His essay “Theory of self-reproducing automata” he described how a computer program could be designed to reproduce itself. Von Neumann’s design for a self-reproducing computer program is considered the world’s first computer virus, and he is considered to be the theoretical “father” of computer virology. In 1972, Veith Risak directly building on von Neumann’s work on self-replication published his article “Self-reproducing automata with minimal information exchange”.

Creeper was an experimental computer program written by Bob Thomas at BBN in 1971. Creeper was actually designed as a security test to see if a self-replicating program was possible. With each new hard drive infected, Creeper would try to remove itself from the previous host. Creeper had no malicious intent and only displayed a simple message: “I’M THE CREEPER. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!”

Virus creators, or “virus writers”, started off writing viruses in the early 1980’s. Until the late 1990’s most of the viruses were just pranks made up in order to annoy users and to see how far a virus could spread. The writers were often young programmers, some still in their teens, who didn’t always understand the vast consequences of their actions.

First PC virus: The first virus that attacked MS-DOC is called Brain and was written by two brothers, Basit Farooq Alvi and Amjad Farooq Alvi, from Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan in 1986. When the brothers created the virus, they were running a computer store in Lahore, Pakistan and noticed that their customers were circulating illegal copies of software they’d written. So, they thought of a unique way of teaching their customers a lesson, they created the Brain virus. Tired of customers making illegal copies of their software, they developed Brain, which replaced the boot sector of a floppy disk with a virus. The virus, which was also the first stealth virus, contained a hidden copyright message, but did not actually corrupt any data. It began infecting 5.2″ floppy disks. The brothers stressed in interviews that they created the virus only for the illegal copies of the software, putting their names, phone numbers, and their shop’s address in the virus code. Basit and Amjad never thought of the virus growing into a global-sized monster, with powers beyond their capacities to control it.

Screenshot of Brain Computer virus. On the right side the Name and address of its creator is also visible.