Computer virus history

Updated: 08/16/2021 by Computer Hope
What are the top 10 computer viruses of all time?
Year Event
1949 The concept of a computer virus, being a program capable of replicating itself, was first mentioned in John von Neumann's 1949 essay titled "Theory of self-reproducing automata."
1982 Richard Skrenta created the first computer virus, called the Elk Cloner, at the age of 15. The virus spread to other computers by monitoring the floppy drive and copying itself to any floppy diskette that was inserted into the computer. Once a floppy was infected, it would infect all other computers that used the diskette. A computer that was infected would display a short poem on every 50th boot.
1984 The term "virus" was coined by Fred Cohen in a 1984 research paper.
1988 The first worm, called the Morris worm, was created by Robert Morris on November 2, 1988. The Morris worm spread by exploiting vulnerabilities in Unix finger, rsh, and sendmail commands. It did not cause any damage, but rather was developed to determine the size of the Internet.
1989 The first known ransomware attack was the AIDS Trojan in 1989. Created and initiated by Joseph Popp, the AIDS Trojan encrypted file names and hid those files in another location on the computer's hard drive. To get the decryption key, victims were informed they needed to pay $189. Through analysis, the decryption key was found to be included in the ransomware's code, and could be extracted without paying the ransom.
1999 The Melissa virus was created in 1999 by David Smith. Melissa spread to computers by sending itself to the first 50 people in a recipient's address book, infecting a lot of computers. Melissa wrecked havoc on government and business networks, causing damage totaling about $80 million.
2000 The ILOVEYOU virus was released in 2000 and suspected to be created by Onel de Guzman, infecting computers through e-mail and IRC clients. The damage caused by ILOVEYOU was estimated at around $10 billion.
2001 Nimda was released in 2001, infecting thousands of computers by spreading through e-mail and web pages. Nimda targeted Internet servers and caused Internet performance to slow down drastically, sometimes even to a halt.
2001 Code Red was released in 2001 and started Denial of Service (DoS) attacks against White House web servers. Code Red infected computers by exploiting a vulnerability in Windows NT and 2000, causing a buffer overflow.
2001 The Klez virus was released in late 2001 and infected computers through e-mails and spoofing, making recipients think the e-mails were coming from friends or family. Klez was able to disable antivirus programs and manipulate computer files, rendering the computers unusable.
2003 The Blaster Worm, also called Lovsan, Lovesan, and MSBlast, was released in August 2003 and infected millions of computers. It started many Denial of Service (DoS) attacks against Microsoft servers, including Several variants of the Blaster Worm were created, including variant B which was created by Jeffrey Parson, who was arrested in March 2004.
2004 Netsky was created by Sven Jaschan and released in February 2004, infecting thousands of computers via e-mail and Windows networks. Netsky caused a lot of Internet traffic, resulting in Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. At least 29 variants of Netsky were created by June 2004 and between Netsky and its variants, they accounted for nearly 25% of all viruses on the Internet.
2004 MyDoom worm was released on February 1, 2004, and spread to thousands of computers through e-mail and peer-to-peer networks. MyDoom started many Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, but it shut itself down 11 days later.
2004 Sasser worm was created by Sven Jaschan and released in April 2004. Sasser infected computers by exploiting a vulnerability in a component of Microsoft Windows called as LSASS. Sasser altered parts of the operating system and made it difficult for users to shut down their computers. The damage that Sasser caused wrecked havoc in the commercial market, causing Delta Air Lines to cancel several flights and various financial companies to close offices.
2006 The Leap-A virus, also known as Oompa-A, infected Mac computers. Leap-A infected computers through the iChat messaging program, but it did not cause much damage. It was created to show that Mac computers can be infected by viruses.
2007 The Storm Worm, also called Peacomm and Nuwar, infected up to 10 million computers and links to download the virus were found in over 200 million e-mails. Infected computers became part of a botnet, and connected with 30 or so other computers to form the botnet. The Storm Worm was first detected on January 17, 2007, and accounted for 8% of all virus infections worldwide by January 22, 2007.
2008 Conficker is a worm that was released in November 2008, infecting computers to create a botnet. Conficker spread by exploiting a vulnerability in the Windows operating system and infected millions of business, government, and home computers.

Computer History