Monday, May 21, 2012

Virus: Then and Now

In the present time, we know viruses are just harmful pieces of malicious code that are made to mess with our computer's system. However, only a few people know what kind of fun they brought to programmers in the past years. Let's look on viruses from a different perspective by looking back to the past.

Virus, as the word suggest, is a harmful kind of software that is analogous to the biological virus that we know. It spreads within the computer through infected hardware or website and replicates itself when injected to a host, much like how a real virus behaves. Although this definition sounds harmful, programmers of the 70's find them fun to play with. It was in 1970 that the first virus was created with no intention of messing up a whole system. It is only made for fun by the programmers from Bell Laboratories. The game was called Core War. This game runs within the company network and the goal of the game is to completely destroy the programs of another computer while making sure that it proliferates within the environment. The developers would code software that could replicate, repair itself, and move in different parts of the memory and attack software by writing a random opponent in the opponent's computer memory. The game ends after a specified time or when the opponent's programs are completely inactive or destroyed.

Although this sounded a scary, it was safe by that time because the developers knew where they would lead their software and it is all contained in a controlled environment.

In 1984, a game was made which had the same intention as the one stated above. This game became the stage for future viruses. The ARPANET was also infected by software called brain (which was a virus) which renames all disk boot systems to (C) Brain. This software also gave the name, phone number and address to the infected computer because this was made for advertisement purposes.

Today, viruses are treated differently from how it was back then. Viruses nowadays have a sole purpose, to mess with a computer's system files and mess up the whole of it. Viruses now are sneakier and more harmful than the ones developed before because they don't solely intend to break the system but they also break through one's privacy by gathering information from the victim. They can now fit in ordinary programs and attack the unwary user.

The internet, being one of the most accessible sources of information has also become a big arena for the viruses and the developers that made them. It was through it that the widespread of latent viruses has been rapidly made. Now that technology is advancing rapidly, connections become stronger giving way for easier proliferation of viruses.

Knowing the present intentions of viruses, we should take extra care when installing a software or browsing a page. Its intentions are still for fun, although they are now made with malicious intent for the developer's benefit.

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