A brief history of the evolution of the cyber attack

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When it comes to the best cyber security companies Essex can offer, we like to think Fortified IT is right up there with the very best (this might sound like we are blowing our own horn a little too much, but we have worked extremely hard to be able to carelessly throw around self-praise like this, so allow us our moment haha). And as one of the best cyber security companies Essex has, we are constantly seeing how cyber attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. But how did cyber attacks come into being in the first place? You might assume that cyber attacks, and therefore cyber security, is a relatively modern industry, originating around the turn of the century. The reality is that the history of cyber attacks and cyber security actually dates back to those glam rock heydays of the early seventies, (not that the rise of cyber attacks and the rise of glam rock have been proven to be in any way related…Yet).

Being one of the best cyber security companies Essex can boast gives us great power in nullifying digital threats for our customers from the web. Because, as you know, with great power comes great responsibility. Our responsibility is to give you a better understanding of how these digital threats evolved, which is why we have written this informative and interesting blog! No need to thank us, we are not heroes. Well, ok, maybe there is a hero in all of us (don’t worry, we have now reached our maximum allowance for Spiderman quotes in one blog).

So, without further ado…here is a brief history of the evolution of the cyber attack. We hope you enjoy it!

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The original computer worm

It’s 1971 and T-Rex topped the UK charts with “Get It On”, the first major glam rock song to have commercial success. At the same time, famously anti glam rock fan Bob Thomas became infamous himself for creating what has widely been accepted as the first computer worm. What made this program so groundbreaking was this “worm” actually bounced between computers. Surprisingly, the worm was not created to be malicious, it would just display a message on the screen of any infected computer simply saying “I’m the creeper: catch me if you can.” This program marked the beginning of what would eventually become a multi-billion-pound industry. Cheers for that, Bob!

The original DOS (denial of service) attack

Fast forward to 1988, and glam rock has been dead for well over a decade, marking the end of these pointless glam rock puns. So, it is 1988. Enter another Bob, Robert Morris, who created a computer worm that had some pretty negative effects on the early internet, slowing it down significantly. And just like his namesake from 1971, this Bob also didn’t create this worm to cause damage. He actually wrote it to highlight security flaws, including weak passwords and Unix sendmail. Unfortunately, he did such a good job that the code he wrote caused the worm to go a bit mental, replicating excessively. The end result of this caused damages estimated at anywhere between $100,000 to $10,000,000 and resulted in a partition of the internet itself, which lasted for several days. Whoops!

The AIDS Trojan

The following year saw the first notable ransomware attack. In 1989 Joseph Popp (it is hard not to make another glam rock pun off the back of his surname, but we did make promises in the previous paragraph) created the AIDS Trojan, a malware which he distributed through his postal mailing lists in the form of a floppy disk. Mr Popp was hoping to extort money from people from this program, in the same way that modern ransomware attacks work. Fortunately, the AIDS Trojan was poorly designed and could be removed relatively easily, due to the virus only scrambling the names of the infected files, instead of scrambling the file’s contents. Unfortunately, cyber attacks would become ever more sophisticated. This leads us conveniently to…

ILOVEYOU Worm attack

At the end of the 90s, Microsoft launched Windows 98, which opened up a completely different level of accessibility to the average computer user. This really was the start of the modern age of widespread domestic and commercial internet usage. This in turn led to a huge rise in cyber crimes, one of the most successful of these being the ILOVEYOU worm. This program infected millions of computers across the globe, all within a mere few hours of its release. The ingenuity of this program was it would arrive as an email in a user’s inbox with the subject line “i love you”, leading to a very high click rate. The ILOVEYOU worm ended up being one of the most damaging worms in history with over 10 million confirmed victims.

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Enter Anonymous

The “hacktivist” group Anonymous was created in 2003. You may know them posting content wearing Guy Fawkes masks (in a nod to the dystopian film ‘V is for Vendetta’). The Anonymous group has been responsible for a large number of cyber attacks against many organisations, corporations, and even governments. They are probably the most well-known group of hackers in the world, and they target anyone or anything that they believe is fuelling online censorship. As one of the best cyber security companies Essex has, we certainly do not condone cyber attacks in 99.99% of cases. But even we have to applaud a group that went on the digital offensive against Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin!

The Wikileaks affair

One of the most famous cyber attacks in history occurred in 2016. Wikileaks released documents relating to the 2016 National Committee email leak involving Russian (them again!) intelligence agency hackers and had a huge effect on the 2016 US presidential election. Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, has been arrested and is currently fighting extradition to the US, which wishes to prosecute him for the leaks. Whilst not an attack per se, it could be argued that tighter cyber security, such as is offered by Fortified IT, one of the best cyber security companies Essex can offer, could have stopped those pesky Russians at source!

So there we are, our brief history of the evolution of the cyber attack. Since the mid-2010’s there has been such an advance in cyber attacks that we will look at this in more detail in a future blog (a blog without any pointless references to glam rock). Something to look forward to, eh?

Fortified IT, one of the best cyber security companies Essex has to offer?

So, is Fortified IT one of the best cyber security companies Essex has? The answer is no. It is THE best. Don’t believe us? Contact our team and we guarantee you will be blown away by our no-nonsense, friendly and unbelievably knowledgeable cyber security solutions.

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