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The Computer Virus Turns 25 in July

CmdrTaco posted about 7 years ago | from the thats-silver-right dept.

Worms 194

bl8n8r writes "In July of 1982, an infected Apple II propogated the first computer virus onto a 5-1/4" floppy. The virus, which did little more than annoy the user, Elk Cloner, was authored in Pittsburgh by a 15-year-old high school student, Rich Skrenta. The virus replicated by monitoring floppy disk activity and writing itself to the floppy when it was accessed. Skrenta describes the virus as "It was a practical joke combined with a hack. A wonderful hack." Remember, he was a 9th grader when he did this."

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194 comments

Imagine his wealth... (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | about 7 years ago | (#19875963)

...if he had patented the virus.

Re:Imagine his wealth... (5, Funny)

vivaoporto (1064484) | about 7 years ago | (#19876053)

And imagine how secure the computing world would be ... if Microsoft had a monopoly on virus creation.

Re:Imagine his wealth... (0)

MrKaos (858439) | about 7 years ago | (#19876165)

if Microsoft had a monopoly on virus creation.
It's kinda like a dog chasing it's own tail.

What if they had a patent/monopoly on a secure operating system?

Re:Imagine his wealth... (1)

Creepy (93888) | about 7 years ago | (#19876751)

Heh - they practically do - the MS shakedown virus was more than effective - Windows infects almost all personal computers out there. I dubbed it shakedown as in Microsoft capturing most of its existing marketshare using exclusive discounts to companies if they only bundle Microsoft products, which is pretty much the same thing as extortion in my eyes.

Re:Imagine his wealth... (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | about 7 years ago | (#19877575)

Wrong. Extortion would be "Either you bundle Microsoft, and only Microsoft, or Windows will crash constantly on Dell Computers." Discounts for being exclusive is a legitimate, if somewhat slimy, business tactic.

Re:Imagine his wealth... (1)

Nurseman (161297) | about 7 years ago | (#19877863)

"Wrong. Extortion would be "Either you bundle Microsoft, and only Microsoft, or Windows will crash constantly on Dell Computers."


Sort of like to old story about "Windows is not done until 1-2-3- will not run"?

I doubt it. (0, Redundant)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#19876185)

Malware writers don't give a rat's rear about other laws, why do you think they'd honor patents? Especially when they're usually sitting in countries that don't care too much about foreign patents in the first place.

Re:I doubt it. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876275)

-1 NoShitSherlock

Re:I doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876469)

You see... on Slashdot we have these things called jokes.

Now there's something you can get to detect these. They'll jump right out of the page at you if you have one. It's called a sense of humor.

I hope you wrote that down.

Re:I doubt it. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#19876779)

Mmm... seems by browser doesn't support it. Know a plugin for FF that can handle that?

Script kiddie age? (5, Interesting)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 7 years ago | (#19875989)

Is there any information on the average age of people who have written the major viruses of the last couple decades? Has this age gone down over time?

Re:Script kiddie age? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 7 years ago | (#19876225)

I suspect it hasn't gone down, specifically because the script kiddies aren't the ones writing the major viruses.

Re:Script kiddie age? (1)

omeomi (675045) | about 7 years ago | (#19876397)

Still, impressive that a 9th grader figured out how to write the first virus. I'm 28, have a CS degree, and have no idea how to write a virus. Mostly because I've never bothered to learn, I suppose...

Pretty sad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876669)

Still, impressive that a 9th grader figured out how to write the first virus. I'm 28, have a CS degree, and have no idea how to write a virus. Mostly because I've never bothered to learn, I suppose...


Sadly, you represent a majority of the "CS Degree owners".

It's people like you that get jobs in major corporations and end up becoming security advisors.

My first questions in an interview to hire someone is, "Are you a programmer?" The second question is,"Did you goto school for this?" If they answer "yes" then they don't get the job. But if they explain how they were well into programming before any formal education or possibly don't have any formal education, then they have the job (as long as they can back it up with skills).

I've realized that programming isn't something that can be taught. It's a way of thinking. You either have it, or you don't. The language and tools are a minor piece of the puzzle.

Re:Pretty sad! (1)

omeomi (675045) | about 7 years ago | (#19876791)

Sadly, you represent a majority of the "CS Degree owners".

It's people like you that get jobs in major corporations and end up becoming security advisors.


Why, because I'm not interested in writing viruses? There are plenty of other CS topics one can study without learning how to write a virus.

But if they explain how they were well into programming before any formal education

I started programming long before I had any formal programming education. I've just always been more interested in game and audio programming, or at the very least, programs that help people, and not so much interested in programming malware...

Re:Pretty sad! (2, Interesting)

Retric (704075) | about 7 years ago | (#19876899)

As a CS degree holder who started programming at age 8 I see where you are coming from. But, I think you're missing out on many high quality programmers who started in other areas. Personally I find the most useful questions to separate talented from the useless are:

"What are your thoughts on the mythical man month?"

  and

"Outside of work and school what are some interesting projects you have worked on?"

I know a lot great programmers without formal education, but I also know several excellent people who discovered programming in collage and actually know what they are doing.

Re:Pretty sad! (1)

Altus (1034) | about 7 years ago | (#19877143)

"What are your thoughts on the mythical man month?"

I'm not a big fan of questions that require one to have read a particular book or to have knowledge of something that is not in their scope of expertise. The "Mythical Man Month" is a project management concept. Its not up to your programmers to decide, or understand how the project is managed, thats part of the standard division of labor (at least anyplace I have worked, perhaps you work in very different environments).

That said, I could discuss that question since I do have team lead experience and might want to do that in the future, but its pretty brutal to expect someone who is really a code jockey (and maybe really fantastic at doing just that) to answer questions on project management.

I liked your second question a bit more, but it assumes that ones life is wrapped up in coding. I have far too much else going on in my life to spend my free time writing code. If my job was rock climbing for a living, I probably wouldn't do very much of that in my off time either. Maybe I would write code instead.

Re:Script kiddie age? (1)

mgblst (80109) | about 7 years ago | (#19877615)

I'm 28, have a CS degree,
 
Wow, maybe you consider that the ultimate laudation. but it is really something embarrassing to be bragging about. Clearly you have absolutely no imagination if you can't figure out how to write a virus, it is one of the more simple programs you could write. Look at the fact early viruses were often detected by the number of BYTES they addes to an exe or com file.

Re:Script kiddie age? (1)

omeomi (675045) | about 7 years ago | (#19877741)

Clearly you have absolutely no imagination if you can't figure out how to write a virus, it is one of the more simple programs you could write.

I think I made it reasonably clear that I have no interest in writing a virus, and thus, have not spent any time whatsoever trying to figure out how to do it. Why would I want to write a virus?

Answering my own question, sort of (5, Informative)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 7 years ago | (#19876367)

Of the "ten most destructive PC viruses of all time [techweb.com] ":

CIH, by Chen Ing Hau, who "attended a university" at the time of release ~1998.
Melissa virus, by David L. Smith, age 31 in 1999
ILOVEYOU, by university student for thesis, 2000
Code Red, author unknown?
SQL Slammer, 2003, by a 21-22 year old
Blaster, 2003, variant by an 18 year old
Sobig, possibly by 30 year old Ruslan Ibragimov?
Bagle, author unknown?
MyDoom, unknown
Sasser, by 17 year old

Not much to go on.

Re:Answering my own question, sort of (3, Funny)

macdaddy357 (582412) | about 7 years ago | (#19877309)

You forgot Monkeypoo!

VIRUS WARNING:

Attention: Computer Labs Inc., makers of Virucide antivirus software have identified a highly dangerous new Trojan worm, MONKEYPOO. It will usually appear in an e-mail with the subject, "Congratulations.You have won!" it will then prompt you to click a link to collect your cash prize. It can also freely spread across networks.

Monkeypoo will read your address book, and mail a copy of itself to every address it finds, and it will look like you sent it. It will then invoke the secret self-destruct command held over from the original IBM PC's 8086 command set. This short line of code will cause the processor, ram, hard drive and any floppy drives to spin out of control and overheat until key components melt together, and will most likely cause a fire.

James Winklee, a former IBM programmer had this to say. "We developed the self-destruct code so government agencies such as the FBI and CIA could quickly and completely destroy compromised computer systems before an enemy could get their hands on classified information. When we saw how violently a PC executing the command burst into flames, we decided not to publish its existence. It has been kept a secret successfully until now. If you get infected with the Monkeypoo Trojan worm, you may notice your computer going completely haywire. Physically unplug it from power as fast as you can, and send it in for repair. Only a professional can remove this one."

While Computer Labs Inc and other antivirus software makers are working on a solution, they haven't got one a home user could successfully run yet. "This is the worst kind of malicious code I have ever seen." said Marcus Polan of Computer labs Inc. Use extreme caution.

It is important that as many computer users as possible receive this warning, so send it out to as many people as you can. The entire Internet and every PC connected to it is at risk.

Re:Script kiddie age? (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 7 years ago | (#19876593)

I suppose I will be pedantic about this as I don't think we should minimize the creativity. I think of script kiddies as someone who takes existing tool, say some published code and MS Visual studio, and repackages it. They, in fact, just use scripts.

What this kid did was go into the the Apple internals and figure out how to do something himself. In hindsight it was not such a great feat, but is was a feat that was at least somewhat novel.

OTOH, kids have nothing but time on their hands and if the parents and schools don't keep them busy, then they find other ways to stay busy. The more cleaver one can produce some real havoc. What impresses me is the high school kid that does something creative and interesting with his or her free time, instead of being randomly malicious. The really good ones will go out and start applying their skills to the betterment of humanity, but really any bright kid that chooses a path that is not gratuitously destructive is a win in my opinion.

Re:Script kiddie age? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877441)

Is there any information on the average age of people who have written the major viruses of the last couple decades? Has this age gone down over time?
Old days one should know lots of math (polymorphic), asm development (to keep size low), great insight to how OS works (so os won't crash) to code a working virus.

Now they just code some script kiddie junk and it works somehow. The "rootkit" part is coded by real coders, just bundled. The age average must be really in funny levels now.

I remember my friends were following the virus scene just because they were admiring the evil geniuses, now what to collect/watch? windows scripts? :)

Don't forget the Lehigh Virus (4, Interesting)

R2.0 (532027) | about 7 years ago | (#19875991)

I was at Lehigh when this was released. One of the first self propagating viruses, with a time delay to allow for greater infection, that was actually destructive. It was sort of a non-event to the users there; imagine my surprise when I looked it up years later and it figures prominently in virus history.

Re:Don't forget the Lehigh Virus (4, Interesting)

rudegeek (966948) | about 7 years ago | (#19876123)

One of the first self propagating viruses

Still, sounds like something very harmless. You should see Amiga-related (not AmigaOS related as much of the population used Amiga as game console) viruses, like Saddam. I think orginal Saddam could be proud this piece of horrible software.

Then, with release of AmigaOS 2.04, we had new kind of viruses. They would spread like... er... viruses? They patched all systems calls dealing with resources loading and all your fonts, device drivers, libraries, executables was infected. I still remember Happy New Year 1996 -- it took me two days with no sleep to clean my disk. Anti-virus software that could deal with it was designed by someone who hated people. First, you passed what it should scan. Then, when process started, at every instance of virus it would start FROM THE TOP. And it would say "Oh, you have an virus. It was deleted. Continue?" You HAD to click it to start again. My Libs: directory had over 6500 shared libraries. All infected.

(Yes, I realize it was done to prevent from recursive infection. This should not be the case since all system vectors was checked all the time by the very same program.)

I think this guy was hired to do 'Allow or Cancel' component. :-)

Re:Don't forget the Lehigh Virus (1)

R2.0 (532027) | about 7 years ago | (#19876697)

"Still, sounds like something very harmless"

Nope - it overwrote the boot sector of floppies, blowing away your data. None of the PC's on campus had hd's - there were boot floppies strewn around everywhere, and we kept all of our data on 5 1/4 floppies. Losing that data could get very upsetting.

The solution was trivial - making the boot sector read only. But the idea was there.

Re:Don't forget the Lehigh Virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877155)

> making the boot sector read only 99% right -- the solution was trivial, convert the boot disks scattered around campus to those fancy (for the time) read-only disks. Didn't prevent those who had their own boot disks from continuing to spread the virus, though. Fun times, fun times.

Re:Don't forget the Lehigh Virus (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876135)

Since we can't be proud of our football team, our drinking, our class president, or our officals, we'll be proud of engineering the first virus to corrupt data. All things considered it's probably a better thing to be remembered for than the others.

(Will be a senior in the Computer Science department this fall.)

Re:Don't forget the Lehigh Virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876589)

I'm proud of that guy who robbed the bank.

Earlier not-in-wild viruses (2, Informative)

Wikipedia (928774) | about 7 years ago | (#19876849)

to quote: http://vx.netlux.org/lib/aes03.html [netlux.org]

Dr. Cohen defined the term to mean a security problem that attaches itself to other code and turns it into something that produces viruses; to quote from his paper: "We define a computer `virus' as a program that can infect other programs by modifying them to include a possibly evolved copy of itself." He claimed the first computer virus was "born" on November 3, 1983, written by himself for a security seminar course. (That the Internet Worm was unleased on the eve of the 5th anniversary of this event was coincidence of a most amazing sort.) Actual computer viruses were being written by individuals before Cohen, although not named such, as early as 1980 on Apple II computers.[9] The first few viruses were not circulated outside of a small population, with the notable exception of the "Elk Cloner" virus for Apple II computers, released in 1981.

Also Don't Forget the Dark Avenger (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877555)

The Dark Avenger Virus was the first to use a polymorphic encryption engine, in order to change it's "signature" at runtime.

It also pioneered the use of the "delta offset" - a clever assembly language trick that allowed for the body of the virus to be relocatable to any segment in memory, without hardcoding.

Perhaps most importantly, the commented source code for this virus was spread far and wide and inspired the creation of many virus groups such as Falcon/Skism and Nuke.

Has this been done before? (4, Funny)

TheBearBear (1103771) | about 7 years ago | (#19876011)

I take a snapshot of my sister's desktop, then open it in photoshop and clone all sorts of icon and littering it all over like a mess, then save the file and use it as a desktop background. She comes over to me screaming that her desktop is a mess and she couldn't find anything, and she can't open an icon when she clicks on it, much less highlight it! AHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Not a virus, just a prank but still :D

Re:Has this been done before? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876111)

Shouldn't it be your nap time?

Re:Has this been done before? (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | about 7 years ago | (#19876147)

I've been doing that for the past 10 years. I had a roommate in college who almost completely flipped out when I did it to him.

My personal preference is take the screen shot, flip it, then set that as the background. WinXP makes things easy because you can just right click and uncheck "show icons". I do it once or twice a year at work. Doesn't work so well anymore now that all PCs will lock themselves after 10 minutes of inactivity.

Re:Has this been done before? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 7 years ago | (#19876647)

My personal preference is take the screen shot, flip it, then set that as the background. WinXP makes things easy because you can just right click and uncheck "show icons". I do it once or twice a year at work. Doesn't work so well anymore now that all PCs will lock themselves after 10 minutes of inactivity.


The truly evil among us keep *SOME* of the icons on the desktop, and hide the rest away in another folder. Thus, some of the icons work, while the rest are just images. Truly infuriating!

One of the nice side effects of Microsoft acquring SysInternals is that some popular SysInternals stuff, like their BSOD Screensaver [microsoft.com] get hosted by Microsoft. Why use a screenshot of a BSOD, when you can have a live screensaver emulate the real thing? (Including the reboot sequence if "automatically reboot" is set).

And hey, it's from Microsoft now, it's "official."

Re:Has this been done before? (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 years ago | (#19876261)

nope a better one is to put a photo screensaver on a It professionals machine, then have it display only 1 image a BSOD.

The guy was one of the types that always reminded you of his certifications. yet it took us telling him it was a screensaver to stop him from tearing apart his PC.

It was funnier than hell, he stopped chasing us with sharp objects about 4 days later.

Re:Has this been done before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877337)

Same vein, but with our IT Security Guru ... never locked his workstation (and his cube was next to mine). Mind you, this was a government shop where people did get fired for p0rn and the like. We just turned on Active Desktop to boobs.com (randomly chosen) and locked his workstation. He unlocked his workstation, got a pretty picture and sysadmin had it in the logs. ROFL.

Re:Has this been done before? (1)

TofuMatt (1105351) | about 7 years ago | (#19876551)

First time I left my computer unlocked at work, the guys I work with did it to me :D We play pranks on each other all the time.

Re:Has this been done before? (1)

StefanoB (775596) | about 7 years ago | (#19876707)

Next time, draw something like broken glass. I hope she freaks out on that one :-). (FYI, both things have been done before).

Re:Has this been done before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876743)

I took my friend's master thesis source code (in Fortran!), backed it up somewhere hidden, and sorted his original. Alphabetically. This was classic spaghetti fortran, thousands of lines, not destroyed, but rendered useless by their being in alphabetic order...

This was on an ancient IBM 4341--old 3278 green phosphor terminals...

We would also take the keys from the tape drive unit, which on ibm mainframes could be taken out of the sockets, and re-arrange them, so the tape operator would go insane when trying to load tapes. Once there were three hundred yards of backup tape sprawling all over the floor.

Re:Has this been done before? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 7 years ago | (#19876933)

Worked with a guy who did something similar to real world stuff. He'd turn around people's filing cabinets and put fake handles on the "front." I never saw it (they were integral to the desk when I worked there), but apparently quire a few people fell for it.

Re:Has this been done before? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876979)

I had a boss named "Dave" once. I replaced his Windows sound events with snips from 2001: a space oddessey. For instance "I'm sorry, I can't do that, Dave".

I miss that job!

Re:Has this been done before? (1)

goldspider (445116) | about 7 years ago | (#19877019)

Yeah, I did that to my roommate in college after he pissed me off. I suppose it was less malicious than a friend who ran a magnet over all of his roommate's ZIP disks.

In a word? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 7 years ago | (#19877481)

Yes.

Still funny as hell though.

Re:Has this been done before? (1)

harrkev (623093) | about 7 years ago | (#19877567)

I take a snapshot of my sister's desktop, then open it in photoshop and clone all sorts of icon and littering it all over like a mess, then save the file and use it as a desktop background.
That is cute, but it is time to graduate into the world of REAL hacking. Try hacking the computer at 127.0.0.1. I hear that the guy who runs that system knows nothing about security. Break in, download all the warez you want, and wipe his hard drive just to teach him a lesson.

The reason why Macs are so much more secure... (4, Funny)

vigmeister (1112659) | about 7 years ago | (#19876019)

is that the viruses for it are traditionally written by 9th graders who use the B: drive...

Re:The reason why Macs are so much more secure... (3, Funny)

achilles777033 (1090811) | about 7 years ago | (#19877859)

I beleive Ctrl-Alt-Delete gives the best response to this. http://cad-comic.com/comics/20060513.jpg [cad-comic.com] No one gives a shit.

Maybe my computer has a virus? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876035)

I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Mac fanatics? I've been sitting here at my freelance gig in front of a Mac (I recently upgraded from an 8600/300 w/64 Megs of RAM to an 8-core 3.0Ghz Mac Pro) for about 20 minutes now while it attempts to copy a 17 Meg file from one folder on the hard drive to another folder. 20 minutes. At home, on my Pentium Pro 200 running NT 4, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this 8-core Mac Pro, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, Safari will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even BBEdit Lite is straining to keep up as I type this.

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on various Macs, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a Mac that has run faster than its Wintel counterpart, despite the Macs' faster chip architecture. My 486/66 with 8 megs of ram runs faster than this 3.0Ghz 8-core machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Macintosh is a superior machine.

Mac addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use a Mac over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems.

Re:Maybe my computer has a virus? (0, Flamebait)

Random832 (694525) | about 7 years ago | (#19876251)

You know, no-one's going to deny that the old Mac OS sucked. There's a reason they threw it away and moved to a unix-based OS. Adapting this rant to refer to a newer mac without even changing the PC it refers to is just lame.

Re:Maybe my computer has a virus? (0, Redundant)

the_humeister (922869) | about 7 years ago | (#19876453)

Why was parent modded flamebait? The GP post really was lame and poorly adapted to the current crop of Apple computers. Perhaps because he stated that "the old Mac OS sucked"? Well, back then it did for many reasons including that it wasn't even a preemptive multitasking OS.

Re:When did we start talking about Macs? (1)

drhamad (868567) | about 7 years ago | (#19877079)

OK, whether or not the old Mac OS sucked, which is simply a flamebate argument not worth getting into, what does that have to do with an *APPLE* virus?

Re:Maybe my computer has a virus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877069)

And your point is what? The Apple II ProDOS in 1982 had about as much
in common with Mac OS X in 2007 as RT-11 has with Linux.

Re:Maybe my computer has a virus? (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | about 7 years ago | (#19877553)

Well some people admired of MacOS works and millions of hours multimedia, billions of mainstream newspapers, millions of scientific research done with it. The stuff you watch on your HDTV if produced back in 1990s is probably completely produced on that poor old OS which you claim to have sucked.

It could not cope with the modern times, it is true but it doesn't make it "suck". What sucks is the people switching to Mac OS X/Apple and trying to convert it to some nerd OS they were used to. Glad that Apple at least manages to /ignore them at least for now.

Some shareware applications on OS X are plain copying OS 9 way of things (UI behaviour) and they are hugely popular. I am not saying Apple shouldn't make a genius move as making NeXT "down to end user" and progressing it as new operating system. I am just saying MacOS is/was NOT Windows 3.1 or DOS. It really deserves some respect.

Also Mac OS X is not Unix Based, it is Mach+FreeBSD hybrid OS. It is the incarnation of NeXT. In fact, even at current level, a horribly broken FreeBSD layer OS X is still functional, got a badly cloned Mini upstairs, believe me I know. ;)

Happy birthday! (5, Funny)

friedman101 (618627) | about 7 years ago | (#19876173)

Finally, you're old enough to rent a car [foxnews.com] .

Re:Happy birthday! (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 7 years ago | (#19877389)

Yeah, you program in a route to a restaurant you want to visit on vacation, and end up at the hut of some old man peddling v!@Gr/\

Re:Happy birthday! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877417)

The funniest line in that link? "Click here to visit FOXNews.com's Cybersecurity Center."

Runner up: "Despite the fact that the Windows viruses pose no known threat to the navigation device, which actually runs on a Linux-based operating system"

Stealing thumder from the Mac users (3, Funny)

My name is Bucket (1020933) | about 7 years ago | (#19876189)

Mac OS has never had a virus problem.

Re:Stealing thumder from the Mac users (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | about 7 years ago | (#19876305)

Oh, the irony. :)

Re:Stealing thumder from the Mac users (1)

Vitaliy (782601) | about 7 years ago | (#19876857)

The virus was written for Apple DOS in 1982, Mac OS was released in 1984. The few other problems it had were the security issues introduced by Microsoft Office in the 90s, trojans that had to be invoked by the user, and proof of concepts.

Maya Angelou eat your heart out! (3, Interesting)

Pionus (1128701) | about 7 years ago | (#19876191)

Every 50th booting you'd get this (Note "-" is represents a ). Elk Cloner: The program with a personality- It will get on all your disks - It will infiltrate your chips- Yes it's Cloner!- It will stick to you like glue- It will modify RAM too- Send in the Cloner!- Now if I had gotten that when I was a little kid on my little Apple 2, I'd cry.

Your computer is now stoned! (3, Interesting)

CPE1704TKS (995414) | about 7 years ago | (#19876193)

Anyone remember that one? It was such a pain in the ass at the time, but it didn't go around and delete files, etc. And we got it from pirating program after program. Solution? Install a pirated version of the first anti-virus programs. I'm so old that I can't remember what exactly it was... It might actually have been Norton.

McAfee (2, Insightful)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | about 7 years ago | (#19876227)

Probably was McAfee. Which was a fantastic scanner at the time. Oh how things have changed since then. Sad to see both McAfee and Norton/Symantec turn into useless piles of garbage considering what they once were...

Re:McAfee (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | about 7 years ago | (#19877633)

Probably was McAfee. Which was a fantastic scanner at the time. Oh how things have changed since then. Sad to see both McAfee and Norton/Symantec turn into useless piles of garbage considering what they once were...
MCafee was never fantastic, it was Virex which was fantastic and they acquired it and raped it just like their Symantec buddies did to Peter Norton ages code of Norton Utilities.

About the rate of plain vandalism? I tried the latest Virex (Mcafee) trial on a system with 4 PPC970MP cores and 2,5 GB of RAM: System became barely usable. I remember my brothers PowerBook Duo 270c (68030 with 24mb ram) working happily with the original Virex running 24/7.

The point is: Both companies never did anything right. They purchased flawless working code and bastardised it to current level of nightmare.

Re:Your computer is now stoned! (1)

mjpaci (33725) | about 7 years ago | (#19876273)

Wasn't 'Disinfectant' the first real anti-virus program for the Mac? It was written by a prof at Northwestern, I think.

Re:Your computer is now stoned! (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 7 years ago | (#19876597)

Might be talking about stoned monkey B we had it going around the school lab. We used f-prot for dos to get rid of it but every now and then someone would use a disk that had it and it would be back on every computer.

Re:Your computer is now stoned! (1)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | about 7 years ago | (#19876621)

Anyone remember that one? It was such a pain in the ass at the time, but it didn't go around and delete files, etc. And we got it from pirating program after program. Solution? Install a pirated version of the first anti-virus programs. I'm so old that I can't remember what exactly it was... It might actually have been Norton.
It was most likely McAfee (back when it was shareware freely distributed via the BBS community).

I don't believe Norton got into the anti-virus market until much later (though at that time every geek worthy of the name *did* have a copy of Norton Utilities, most likely pirated).

I *liked* that virus. I was studying computers at the local community college, and printed out the assembly code for "stoned" to study. The top programmer at the electronics company I worked for spotted me reading the code, sat down to chat, and a few weeks later I had my first real computer job...

Not the oldest. (4, Interesting)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | about 7 years ago | (#19876195)

I had an Atari 800 back in 1979. In 1980 I took a small piece of malware someone else wrote and turned it into a virus which would remain memory-resident and self-replicate. After formatting any diskette the victim inserted into the drive, it wrote a hidden file to infect any machine the disk was then used on. This was a payback for the people who were getting pirated software free and then turning around to sell it. I'm pretty sure I still have the source code for it somewhere.

I'm not claiming mine was the oldest because I'm sure someone did something similar on the old heavy iron even earlier than my little "payload" as we called then it.

Really Not the oldest. (2, Interesting)

Cassini2 (956052) | about 7 years ago | (#19876409)

My understanding was that the first computer viruses were penned at Bell Labs in a series of experiments called the "Core Wars". The goal was to eliminate as many enemy tasks as possible while keeping your tasks running. Byte has an article on the subject in the 1980's. Of course, at the time, disk media were in limited supply. This made spreading away from the test mainframe next to impossible.

Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_War [wikipedia.org]

Really Really Not the oldest. (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 7 years ago | (#19876581)

A couple thousand years ago, I deliberately infected a wooden abacus with termites, and put it in the mud hut with all the other abaci.

Really Really Really Not the oldest. (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 7 years ago | (#19877153)

You know that "life" thing? That was me. I got cast down to my creation after infecting the Matrix.

Re:Not the oldest. (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | about 7 years ago | (#19876515)

Nifty.

I had an Atari 800 at home, but used an Apple ][ at school. I modified Apple DOS such that if you booted from one of my floppies, you were forced to enter a password before the boot process would complete. Every time you entered an incorrect character, the next character from the string:
 

You are a rotting, slime-covered filth.


would print. My modified DOS would only propagate if you formatted a floppy that had been booted from one of my modified disks. It wouldn't have been too hard to make it self-propagating by the same technique that the author of Elk Cloner used. I had a copy of 'Beneath Apple DOS', which my friends and I referred to as the New Testament, versus the Old Testament which was the Apple ][ reference manual.

Re:Not the oldest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877609)

If you read the article, you'll see they specify this as being the first virus to make it into "the wild", i.e., it spread outside of the lab/campus where it was created.

Even older (1)

cwills (200262) | about 7 years ago | (#19877809)

The idea of computer viruses are much older then even 1979. Two stories come to mine "The Adolescence of P1" - 1977, "The ShockWave Rider" 1975, both which describe the concept of malicious, unwanted computer programs that infect other systems. While these books describe concepts, they were more then likely based on then current discussions in the computer world.

Re:Not the oldest. - still older (1)

virchull (963203) | about 7 years ago | (#19877951)

Xerox PARC had personal computers connected with Ethernet in the laboratory in 1976. Yes, these were not commercially available, but the technology was pretty much the same as seen later when commercial products were introduced (by others). About then (maybe 1977), a researcher installed some software on one PC to do an experiment in load sharing among PCs. The software replicated across the entire lab and generated a storm of traffic that shut everything down. The first PC virus was an denial of service attack.

Best Prank (0, Redundant)

Martinni (1125889) | about 7 years ago | (#19876217)

Best prank i've done is code a little application that takes a snapshot of your desktop, puts it in as background and hides bottom toolbar... sit back and enjoy!

1988 Morris internet worm (4, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | about 7 years ago | (#19876233)

That was the first virus I remember, but its just 19 years old. It paralyzed the internet when it was released. But then the Net just had a few thousand nodes, most of them in the university. The worm was supposed to count nodes by sending a copy of itself to every entry in the host table, but the author forget to account for duplicates and circularities. So it just replicated until it filled the process spaces and internet bandwidth.

Re:1988 Morris internet worm (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876311)

That was not a virus. It was a worm. There is (used to be?) a difference.

Re:1988 Morris internet worm (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876861)

but the author forget to account for duplicates and circularities
Actually the story is a bit more interesting than this. The author did think about this, and even programmed the worm to ask a target system whether it was already infected, and if it was then it would decline to infect it again.

The flaw came in a deliberate modification of this strategy. Following this idea completely would make the worm easy to defeat, since you could just run a program that listened for the query and answered "yes" to keep the worm away. So he modified it slightly, so that if the worm got seven yes responses in a row, it would go ahead and infect the target anyway.

Seven turned out to be too small, the worm ended up infecting machines over and over and over again, and brought its targets to a standstill.

Um no. it wasn't (3, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 years ago | (#19876317)

1981 - Apple Viruses 1, 2, and 3 are some of the first viruses "in the wild," or in the public domain. Found on the Apple II operating system, the viruses spread through Texas A&M via pirated computer games.

Bullshit! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876335)

I had sex with a PDP-11 in 1973 and it gave me chlamydia. That predates this asshat by almost a decade. Where's my trophy?!

Re:Bullshit! (4, Funny)

catdevnull (531283) | about 7 years ago | (#19876747)

Your trophy is that warm sensation everytime you pee, amigo.

Re:Bullshit! (1)

Jonathan (5011) | about 7 years ago | (#19876769)

Chlamydia is a bacterium

Re:Bullshit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876911)

Chlamydia is a bacterium
Obviously someone who knows from experience.

Oh Frak (1)

LittleGuy (267282) | about 7 years ago | (#19876901)

So you're the frakker that fathered the Cylons!

Re:Bullshit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877369)

at least you didn't get gonorrhea, then you'd already have your tropy and carry it with you daily.

Pakistani Brain Virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19876443)

I alway thought the first virus was the Pakistani Brain, written by two brothers who ran a computer store that sold pirated software in Pakistan.

G_++

Re:Pakistani Brain Virus (1)

Yaksha42 (856623) | about 7 years ago | (#19877203)

That was the first PC virus, created in 1986.

Maybe not a virus.... (2, Interesting)

Ollabelle (980205) | about 7 years ago | (#19876631)

but I remember a very old Scientific American article (60's maybe?) about program wars in which two programs would simultaneously reside in memory and each would seek out the other to destroy it, usually by inflicting a fatal erasure of a vital part from the memory stack. The article described the programs' different strategies of seek-and-destroy while simultaneously moving itself around to avoid destruction. Pretty primitive, but great fun.

Re:Maybe not a virus.... (1)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | about 7 years ago | (#19876749)

I didn't read Scientific American in the 60's, but I do remember an article about "Core Wars", which dates back to 1984. Page images of the article can now be found at http://www.corewars.org/sciam/ [corewars.org] . There are actually Core Wars leagues online still.

Poor Elk... (1)

ratpick (649064) | about 7 years ago | (#19876879)

"The virus, which did little more than annoy the user, Elk Cloner..." I knew Elk, and more than annoyed. Who new we'd all yearn for the day viruses were that benign?

In college... (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | about 7 years ago | (#19876983)

Late 90's/Early '00s. Had a friend working the computer lab when full shutdown occurred and EVERY screen crashes and goes blank (I THINK it was due to Melissa)...near finals, so everyone was working on their final projects and papers in the labs. 50+people saying "Oh, S---" at the same time. Most profs were nice and had some sympathy.

I wonder if all my disks have this virus... (1)

plams (744927) | about 7 years ago | (#19877027)

I had a friend back in the early 90s who one day found that his Amiga 500 wouldn't load some game. Then he proceeded to warm boot and test ALL his other floppy disks to see if they had the same problem. That virus destroyed 50 disks worth of pirated games in less than an hour.

But... but... but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877121)

I thought Apples couldn't get viruses?

My world is now crashing in on me :(

Who was he? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877199)

By any chance, was his name "Zero cool"? :P

Re:Who was he? (1)

realsilly (186931) | about 7 years ago | (#19877361)

This is a sinful pleasure of mine, but honestly...

Worst Movie Evar!

Re:Who was he? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19877407)

Angelina Jolie topless twice should put at least above the star wars prequels.

The first virus? I do not think so. (4, Interesting)

Asmodai (13932) | about 7 years ago | (#19877681)

Sorry, but Creeper beat that Apple II virus by about 10 years.

http://www.viruslist.com/en/viruses/encyclopedia?c hapter=153310937 [viruslist.com]

Furthermore http://www.viruslist.com/en/viruses/encyclopedia?c hapter=153310910 [viruslist.com] states that such ideas and programs already started in the 40s and 50s.

Slow news day ? (1)

ulysees (15761) | about 7 years ago | (#19877807)

Seriously, how did this make the headlines ?
All it does is encourage people to flame it.
Pretty much for as long as computers have been useful there have been other people interested in stopping them from being useful. It's not really something to celebrate.

The Computer Virus Turns 25 in July (1)

muszek (882567) | about 7 years ago | (#19877933)

Wow, the Virus could be Blogging's father [slashdot.org] . That is if he's not reading slashdot - in this case older brother is the best he can be (not old enough to be even Vlogging's dad).
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