The History of Cyber Security

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outsourced computer supportAs Cyber Security continues to be at the forefront of the news we thought we would recap the history of the internet’s most negative users.

Almost everyone now realises that with a full attack from a determined hacker they are most likely to have a breach of some sort. So alongside detection and prevention, companies must now also have a reaction plan for when the worst happens.

How did we get to this point? The entire internet security industry has developed in the last 25 years as the 1980s was when it all began. Here’s a brief history:

The first worm

In 1988 the Morris worm was created by a student at MIT to test the size of the internet.  Although it had a harmless purpose according to its creator Robert Morris, the worm could actually infect a computer multiple times, slowing it down until it became unusable.

It was the spreading mechanism it used that has been recognised as the mistake that caused all of the issues. Even though it asked each device if  it was already running the code, it had an additional feature that ignored 1 in 7 positive responses and loaded itself anyway. At this point in time, the internet was tiny in comparison to today so the overall effect was much less.

Mr Morris was convicted and received 3 years probation. He is now a tenured professor at MIT but he never actually studied there, he apparently released the worm from their computers to give the impression he was studying there.

Going viral

Things really picked up in the 90s as hackers created viruses that attacked popular products such as Microsoft Outlook and Word. Some were predicted to cause chaos and wipe all data off computers – e.g Michelangelo which targeted a specific date (6th March 1992). Others really did infect huge numbers such as the Melissa Virus which was said to have infected 20% of all computers in 1999.

I Love You

Not literally obviously, but the ILOVEYOU virus arrived with the new millennia in 2000 and infected millions of computers within a few hours of its release. It is often seen as one of the most destructive viruses and spread via email with the subject I Love You. Its ability to open your email address lists and use them to send the message on made it spread extremely fast.

Things turn to money

From around 2005 onwards, data breaches started to attack financial records in an attempt to steal money directly rather than simply cause financial loss through network damage. As the e-commerce revolution fuelled online transactions, cyber criminals homed in on this activity and invented ways of breaching payment systems.

As businesses are required by law to protect this kind of data it also saw them become liable to compensating clients for data breaches leading to financial loss, further increasing the potential financial impact of security issues.

Trojan horses

Powered now by organised crime, hackers can create powerful tools that can for example, hide within your system, disable security systems and collect data as you type. Your stolen data is then transmitted to their network and either used directly by them or sold across the globe to the highest bidder. Thousands of worldwide scams are being powered by the data breaches.

Spoofing the web

Security breaches now also use the cloud and the multitude of interconnected devices we all use to cause chaos. False apps, websites, injected web content and many other viruses are designed each year to attempt to breach your security.

Don’t make it easy

The security industry is not asleep but there is also a recognition now, that it is not possible to eliminate all risk. However neither do you have to make it easy for the criminals and some simple steps will vastly reduce your security risks.

IGC would be happy to complete a security review with you and to put in place a plan to solve this issue. Please give us a call and we can take it from there.

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