The Evolution of Computer Viruses and Anti Virus Protection

The first case diagnosed as a computer “bug” occurred in 1945 when a Naval computer was not working due to a moth caught between the relays of the computer. Computer bugs, viruses and threats have come a long way since then as has the development of antivirus software and protection. Read more to find out just how it has all come about.

Computer viruses and anti virus protection have a long history that actually dates back to 1945 when a moth trapped between relays in a Naval computer was discovered to be the cause of the computer’s problems. The terms “bug”, to refer to problems with electrical devices and “debugging” to describe efforts to fix computer problems was created during this time and continue to be used today.
In 1949 a Hungarian scientist developed the theory of self-replicating programs. Over the next 20 years, a variety of electrical and computer related complications leading to the development of current viruses occurred including unlawfully accessing telephone lines and boxes, and other electrical systems.
A computer “worm” designed to search for systems that are not functioning was developed by Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. It was designed to create more efficient computer processing and use, and became the grandfather of the current generation of destructive computer viruses that are designed to alter or erase information on personal computers, networks, servers, and other computer devices.
One of the most famous instances of computer hacking occurred in 1983, when a group of young computer hackers broke into United States government computer systems with an Apple computer and modem. That same year, a University of Southern California Ph.D candidate named a computer program that affects other programs by changing itself or the host program in some way as a “computer virus.”
1986 marks the beginning of modern day computer viruses. Programmers in Pakistan released the first every personal computer virus, titled “The Brain,” which is quickly followed by a worm designed by a 23 year old programmer that invaded ARPANET (a division of the US Department of Defense) computers disabling 6000 of their computers in 1988. In 1991 a programmer released PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) a free data encryption tool.
Since that time, the most well known of computer virus include: “Melissa” , which automatically and quickly sent replicas of itself to email addresses contained in Microsoft Outlook; “I Love You” which sent copies of passwords and usernames stored on personal computers back to the Philippine designer of this program; and the Anna Kournikova” virus; which was especially alarming to computer users and programmers alike as it was the beginning of the use of “toolkit” software, that assist just about anyone in creating a computer virus.
The year 2001 was a successful one for worms and viruses with the introduction of: The Code Red worm (affecting systems using Microsoft Windows NT and Windows 2000 server software); the “Nimda” virus, and The “Klez” worm which was designed to also disable many of the common anti virus software protection on the market at that time.
In 2002 “root” servers, which are used to provide Internet communication, were affected by a virus causing the need for more protection of the Internet infrastructure. In
2003 The “Slammer” worm caused damages to businesses world wide including cash machines and airports. The “MyDoom” worm was introduced in 2004, a harmful virus which uses tricks to get people to open email attachments that contain the virus.
The very first anti virus software products are claimed by several different sources. One claim to the be first ever anti virus software program was made by European Bernt Fix in 1987. In 1988 the antivirus software Dr. Solomon’s Anti-Virus Toolkit was released by Alan Solomon, of Great Britan. In the early 1990’s there were approximately 19 anti virus software programs including the well-known Symantec’s Norton Anti Virus software, ViruScan by McAfee; and IBM’s Anti Virus. In 1994 Symantec acquired many of the smaller anti virus software protection companies such as Central Point, Peter Norton Computing, and Fifth Generation Systems, making it one of the largest anti virus software services available.
The mid 1990’s brought about many advancements and changes in the development of antivirus software protection. Many divisions within major companies left to form their own software companies. Among those is the highly recognized company currently known as Kaspersky Labs. Other advancements during this time include the development of the Antiviral Toolkit Pro (AVP) anti-virus scanner system. Additional advancements in software development include international distribution and product support. Also developed in the late 1990’s was the licensing agreement of AVP technologies and F Secure Anti Virus.
Currently there are several major providers of anti virus software protection including:
ALWIL Software avast!
AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic
AVG Professional
eTrust EZ Armor Suite
F-Secure Anti-Virus
Kaspersky Anti-Virus
McAfee VirusScan
Norton AntiVirus
Panda Antivirus
Trend PC-cillin
Each of these software services offer a variety of customization options, scanning, controls, blocking, parental controls, and advanced technology designed and developed from all that was learned over the course of antivirus software development by some of the top programmers and software developers available. Software developers have learned much through studying viruses, just like doctors learn about diseases. By searching closely through the programming “language” many threats show a distinct pattern of software usage as well as some very predictable consequences. The continued and expanded research of viruses and other threats such as spyware and malware is required to maintain the efficiency of any anti virus software that you are currently using for your personal computer.
Since that time, computer threats have evolved and become harder to detect. Each decade has brought with it innovations in viruses and other computer threats. The latest include Trojan horses, worms, image and attachment virus and threats, as well as spyware, adware, and malware, all used to access a personal computer and disable systems or obtain information about the user.
As viruses and other threats become more harmful, harder to detect, and easier to spread a good antivirus software download is necessary on every computer in your home or business. Consumers should carefully research the products available and choose the combination of services and features that will be most beneficial to them and their family. Not all computer users need parental controls, but for those that do, it is a key feature in making an anti virus software purchase.
Computer programmers are among some of the most creative and innovative minds in the world. As such we may never find a “cure” for computer viruses, but maybe we can find just the right “medicine” to keep our personal computers and information safe.


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3 Responses to “The Evolution of Computer Viruses and Anti Virus Protection”

  1. Doug Woodall Says:

    Great Article!
    As I always say,
    “Unless you’re really good with computer security, you need AntiVirus, AntiSpyware, and a reliable Firewall. The casual user will not be able to stop their system from becoming vulnerable.”

  2. Qurat Says:

    A very comprehensive report on antiviruses, but I still couldn’t find how to lessen the threat without software, i mean how to lessen the system’s chances for getting effected in different web areas!

  3. joaquin Says:

    What a story, a real bug, now I know.