History of computer viruses and antivirus software
Part 1: the beginning
Although the roots of the computer virus date back1 as early as 1949, when the Hungarian scientist John von Neumann published the "Theory of self-reproducing automata", the first known computer virus appeared in 1971 and was dubbed2 the "Creeper virus". It was written by Bob Thomas. This virus infected Digital Equipment Corporation's (DEC) PDP-10 mainframe computers running the TENEX operating system and displayed a message “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!”.
The Creeper virus was eventually deleted by a program created by Ray Tomlinson and known as "The Reaper". Some people consider "The Reaper" the first antivirus software ever written, but the Reaper was actually a virus itself specifically designed to remove the Creeper virus.
The Creeper virus was followed by several other viruses. The first known that appeared "in the wild"3 was "Elk Cloner" written by 15-year-old Richard Skrenta (Pennsylvania, USA), in 1981, which infected Apple II computers. It also displayed a short poem message by name “Elk Cloner. The program with personality.”
In 1983, the term "computer virus" was coined by Frederick Cohen in one of the first ever published academic papers on computer viruses. Cohen used the term "computer virus" to describe a program that: "affects other computer programs by modifying them in such a way as to include a (possibly evolved) copy of itself." (Note, that a more recent, and precise, definition of computer virus has been given by the Hungarian security researcher Péter Szőr: "a code that recursively replicates a possibly evolved copy of itself")
The first IBM PC compatible4 "in the wild" computer virus, and one of the first real widespread infections, was "Brain" created by the FarooqAlvi Brothers in Lahore, Pakistan in 1986. They were trying to deter unauthorized copying of the software they had written. From then, the number of viruses has grown exponentially. Most of the computer viruses written in the early and mid-1980s were limited to self-reproduction and had no specific damage routine built into the code. That changed when more and more programmers became acquainted with5 computer virus programming and created viruses that manipulated or even destroyed data.
Before internet connectivity was widespread, computer viruses were typically spread by infected floppy disks6. Antivirus software came into use, but was updated infrequently. During this time, virus checkers essentially had to check executable files and the boot sectors of floppy disks and hard disks. However, as internet usage became common, viruses began to spread online.
The late 80-th of the 20-th century saw the world-wide growth of both computer viruses and antivirus software. In 1987, Fred Cohen wrote that “There is no algorithm that can perfectly detect all possible computer viruses.”But, nevertheless, in many European countries and also in the USA a lot of computer specialists started to create their antivirus products. Possibly, the first documented removal of an "in the wild" computer virus (i.e. the "Vienna virus") was performed by Bernd Fix in 1987. In 1987, Andreas Lüning and Kai Figge founded G Data Software and released their first antivirus product for the Atari ST platform. Then there was their Ultimate Virus Killer (UVK). In the United States, John McAfee founded the McAfee company and, at the end of that year, he released7 the first version of Virus Scan. In the meanwhile8, in Slovakia, Peter Paško and Miroslav Trnka created the first version of NOD32 antivirus. Finally, in the end of 1987, the first two heuristic antivirus utilities9 were released: FluShot Plus by Ross Greenberg and Anti4us by Erwin Lanting.
In 1988, the growth of antivirus companies continued in Europe: Germany (Tjark Auerbach’s Avira and the first version of AntiVir), Bulgaria (Dr. Vesselin Bontchev), Czech Republic (Pavel Baudiš and Eduard Kučera Avast). Finally, in the autumn 1988, in United Kingdom, Alan Solomon founded S&S International and created his Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit (although he launched it commercially10 only in 1991). In November 1988 a professor at the Panamerican University in Mexico City named Alejandro E. Carriles copyrighted the first antivirus software in Mexico under the name "Byte Matabichos" (Byte Bugkiller) to help solve the rampant11 virus infestation12 among students.
In 1988, a mailing list named VIRUS-L was started on the BITNET/EARN network where new viruses and the possibilities of detecting and eliminating13 viruses were discussed. Some members of this mailing list were: Alan Solomon, Eugene Kaspersky (Kaspersky Lab), Friðrik Skúlason (FRISK Software), John MacAfee and other well-known people.
In 1989, in United States, Symantec (founded by Gary Hendrix in 1982) launched its first Symantec antivirus for Macintosh (SAM). SAM 2.0, released March 1990, incorporated technology allowing users to easily update SAM to intercept14 and eliminate new viruses, including many that didn't exist at the time of the program's release.
So, the Era of antivirus industry began.
1. to date back – датироваться
2. was dubbed – был назван (получил прозвище)
3. appeared in the wild – появился в дикой природе
(зд. распространился на компьютеры пользователей)
4. IBM PC compatible – совместимый с ПК IBM
5. to become acquainted with – познакомиться с
6. floppy disk – дискета
7. to release – выпускать (зд. продукцию в продажу)
8. In the meanwhile – в то же самое время
9. heuristic antivirus utilities – утилиты эвристического антивируса
10. to launch smth. commercially – запустить что-л. в массовую продажу (коммерчески)
11. rampant – безудержный, буйный, массово распространенный
12. virus infestation – заражение вирусом
15.to eliminate – уничтожить
16. to intercept – перехватить