How did we go from relatively harmless computer worms of the ’80s to the ransomware of today?
As always, it’s all about money.
The first truly historic cyber security event happened in 1988 when a curious grad student crafted a couple dozen lines of programming code to get an idea of how many computers were connected to the internet. Robert Morris released his self-propagating software onto a version of the internet far different from what we know today.
Morris’s “worm” encountered almost no security barriers and spread so far, so quickly that the entire internet slowed to a fraction of its normal speed. In 1988, the footprint of the internet encompassed only around 60,000 computers — 10% of which crashed as a direct result of the world’s first global cyber “attack.”
What followed was a tumultuous decade of never-ending cybersecurity threats that didn’t seem to be motivated by anything other than vandalism. Although slightly different from Morris’s worm, computer viruses like ILOVEYOU found new and innovative ways to wreak havoc on the internet.