A brief History of Cyber Crime

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A brief History of Cyber Crime

The first virus

The historical evidence of the first incidents of cybercrime was in the 1970s, when people started to circumvent different phone companies’ payment for long-distance calls. It wasn’t until 1986 that was is considered the first computer virus called BRAIN started to spread among different computers.

The impact of the virus was only slowed floppy disks used at the time to try and stop the illegal copying of a medical program created by two brothers in Lahore, Pakistan. Since then, destructive virus’ and worms started to take off and is still a more increasing threat. Among these are the Morris worm from 1988 which damaged more than 6,000 computers and resulted in an estimated damage of more than $98 million.


The era of sophisticated worms

In 2000 the “I love you” worm spread through emails and deleted random files on the infected computers causing damages for an estimated $10 billion.

In 2010 a new kind of highly sophisticated and state sponsored worms saw the light.

The Stuxnet worm infected a number of Iranian nuclear facilities through USB-sticks scattered along employee’s cars making them believe they had lost them and without much hesitation used them in the nuclear facilities closed networks, infecting a number of reactors. This forced the Iranian authorities to shut down their uranium enrichment effort for a longer period of time. The Stuxnet worm later became the inspiration for the HBO series “Mr. Robot”.


The devastating threat of ransomware

In recent years many of the worms and viruses discovered have been used to blackmail infected computers and only unlock them if the owner of the infected computers payed a ransom, thereby getting the name “ransomware”. The development of ransomware is predicted to become a whole industry within the next few years. Best known in recent years are the “Wannacry” ransomware that created big headlines around the world exploiting the Eternal-blue weakness in MS Windows.

The growing professionalism in the ransomware industry also shows with dedicated 24/7 service desks and other efforts to make the payment of the ransomware as easy as possible. By the first quarter of 2016 an estimated $209 millions had been paid in ransom to unlock infected computers. 

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