The Creeper program is regarded as the first virus. The idea of a computer virus- a metaphor derived from biological viruses for a computer program that when executed, replicates itself to affect machines-was discussed in a series of lectures in the late 1940s by mathematician John von Neumann.

The Creeper program created by Bob Thomas of BBN in 1971 is often regarded as the first vinus Designed as a security test, it was an attempt to see if self-replicating programs were possible. It had no malicious intent and simply displayed the message: TM THE CREEPER. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN Viruses have come a long way in half a century and are no longer a laughing matter.

Estimates suggest that 3.50,000 new pieces of malware are discovered every single day in a world that is more connected than ever before, the damaging costs of these are also spiraling out of control with conservative estimates placing a figure of $55 billion in annual costs.

An experimental computer network, ARPANET, was created in 1969 and was the precursor to the internet. It was designed to send communications from computer to computer over long distances, without the need for a dedicated phone connection between each computer. To achieve this required a method of dividing and sending data that is now known as packet switching. It’s few early users were mostly computer scientists. Imagine theirsurprise when one day in 1971, connected teletype computer screens displayed the phrase: “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!” Although they didn’t know it at the time, they were the first computer virus victims. But what did the mysterious message mean, and who sent it? It turns out it wasn’t a hacker who coded the first computer virus, and it wasn’t sent with malicious intent. Bold, Beranek, and Newman* (now Raytheon BBN Technologies) were pioneers in packet switching networks like ARPANET and the internet. One of its researchers, Bob Thomas, had created Creeper as an experimental computer program.

Creeper was a worm — a type of computer virus that replicates itself and spreads to other systems. In this case, its targets were Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) computers which were linked to ARPANET. But it wasn’t malware like we associate with today’s computer viruses; displaying its enigmatic message was all Creeper did. It didn’t encrypt files, demand a ransom, destroy data, steal Social Security numbers, or render centrifuges inoperable. It only displayed its taunting challenge.

Credit : Exabeam

Picture Credit : Google 

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