A Brief History Leading to Botnets

It all started with a moth. In 1947, Grace Murray Hopper, a researcher at Harvard, notes a system failure and finds a moth trapped in relay panels – and there you have it, the first computer bug. Skip to 1981, the first virus (the term hadn’t been coined virus until ’83) is released into the wild. The Elk Cloner reflected the camp spirit of the frontier days of computing in the early ’80s. It was written by 15-year-old Rich Skrenta for Apple II’s DOS 3.3 operating system and passed along on floppy disks to his friends (as you can imagine, Skrenta went on to work in Silicon Valley and co-founded the search engine blekko). The next milestone was the coinage of the phrase computer virus; in 1983 Professor Len Adleman at Lehigh University demonstrates the concept at a seminar.

Fast forward to 2008, and enter Conficker: the worm that infected so many computers that as of February 13, 2009, Microsoft is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals behind the creation and/or distribution of Conficker.

Now, looking at spam and how much spam can be sent, check out this wikipedia link for a full list of the most notorious pieces of malware ever to slime their way into your system. We know around 200 billion spam emails are sent per day. Yeah, per day.

So this brings the series to a close. I want you to take an active part in making malware a thing of the past. But it will only happen if you are constantly on guard. It doesn’t take much effort, just a few simple good habits to live by. Don’t open any attachments from people you don’t know or open files you aren’t expecting to receive. Do not click on any pop-ups that encourage you to download anti-malware software; reputable anti-malware companies DO NOT advertise in that manner. Keep your anti-malware programs up to date. But most importantly, DO NOT PIRATE YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM; this leaves you vulnerable to a plethora of hazards that can bring your computer and your IP address to the mercy of the botnet bandits.