While computers have thousands – or millions – of tools that can be used to take advantage of computers, coming from developers, there is also the counterpart of this, malware. This term is almost as old as computer equipment itself, because practically from the beginning there were people focused on creating programs or commands specialized simply in disturbing or even stealing information.
The term malware began to be used in the 90s, previously they were known only as «virus», this was replicated from the medical vocabulary in which the virus is defined as an external agent that can do harm.
This was one of the first viruses in computer history, it became popular in 1988, when computers were extremely different from what they are in 2022. For obvious reasons, cybersecurity back then wasn’t as advanced in those days.
However, its dispersion was such that it managed to infect about 6,000 computers worldwide, this was equivalent to 10 percent of all computers that existed on the planet. Although it is not confirmed, there is a rumor that mentions that it gave problems to NASA and the Pentagon.
Its modus operandi was to over-encourage the computers on which it was hosted, by creating processes and files in temporary folders. The creator of this malware was Robert Tappan Morris, who was sentenced in 1990 to pay more than $100,000 and do 400 hours of community service. However, due to his talent, he managed to become a millionaire and after reforming, he dedicated himself to teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In the 90s, a malware arrived that, curiously, was activated on the same day that one of the most relevant atomic disasters in history occurred: the Chernobyl explosion.
Its origin was in Taipei, where a university student named Chen Ing Hau programmed this virus that generated a formatting of the computer’s hard drive, causing the owner to lose all his information, without being able to recover it. At the same time, the contents of the BIOS were erased, resulting in computers not being able to boot.
According to the manufacturer, the objective of this virus was to «demonstrate» how vulnerable the antivirus of this time could be, which apparently managed to verify, Chernobyl infected up to 60 thousand computers worldwide.
In 1999 one of the best-known viruses worldwide was created. Hand in hand with David L. Smith, the world of cybersecurity was involved in a massive contagion, through social engineering it was possible to deceive the user to install the file that would infect his computer.
The malware arrived via email and was accompanied by a text that said «Here is the document you asked for… do not teach it to anyone»; however, when opening the file, it was automatically forwarded to the first 50 contacts of the affected person’s account, resulting in high rates of transmissibility.
To put in context, in the year of its creation email was in an accelerated growth, so it managed to cause economic losses that were valued at 80 million dollars to US companies. In the end, David L. Smith was caught by the FBI and imprisoned, although he was released after collaborating with the police to find other virus creators.
I love you
This virus, like Melissa, made use of social engineering, arrived via email and was shown as if it contained a message of love, with the legend «Love letter for you». When activated, the virus replaced files on your computer with copies and downloaded a Trojan to steal information.
It was created in the Philippines by Onel de Guzmán, who managed to evade prison because the field of cybersecurity was not regulated in his country. Its impact was such that it could infect up to 50 million computers in just one week; it is said to have given headaches to the British parliament and the Pentagon.
Like other virus creators, Onel de Guzmán reformed and began working in the field of cybersecurity.
In 2008, Conficker became popular, a virus that had the ability to replicate itself and has been listed as one of the most harmful because once activated, the computer lost Windows services and at the same time, downloaded malware.
Its impact was such that Microsoft offered a reward of $ 250,000 to find its creator and thus face justice. According to the FBI, after conducting a search it was known that the first case occurred in Ukraine.
In just one year, 6 percent of computers worldwide had been infected with the worm. To date, it is unknown who was the author of this malware.
This is listed as the most recent of the massive cyberattacks. By the way of operating, it was directed towards large companies, since it is a ransomware that can encrypt the data of the infected system and with it, the user will not be able to access their files.
However, the virus «offered» a solution, if a payment in bitcoins equivalent to 300 dollars was made in 2017, the necessary keys would be granted to regain control of the computer. In addition, a counter was put, which when reaching 0 deleted all the files if the payment had not been made.
In its time, it is considered that it managed to infect more than 100 thousand computers, from 150 countries, of which the hospital service of the United Kingdom stands out. Even at the time it was specified that it was created based on a code stolen from the US spy agency.