Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

25 years since the first virus

Time marches on.. twenty five years ago a High School freshman wrote the first “true” virus, and distributed it to his friends (via floppy disk) as a practical joke. That the “Elk Cloner” virus was harmless, and the young man went on to become a heavyweight in the computing industry, allows us to bear him no ill will. If it hadn’t have been him, it would’ve been someone else; there were “experimental” viruses written before his.

Those of you who have been around for a while may remember the evolution of viruses: from a harmless prank to system destroyers to profit-centric spyware. Security experts generally agree to the important historical malware events as being as follows: Elk Cloner, 1982; Brain, 1986; Morris, 1988; Melissa, 1999; Love Bug, 2000 (aka ILOVEYOU); Code Red, 2001; Blaster, 2003; and Sasser, 2004. (For a much more complete history of viruses, worms, and trojans, click here.)
Today, the business of keeping data and communications safe from viruses and other malware is a $38 billion dollar industry.. and growing. Yes, a lot has changed in twenty five years: I have gray in my hair now, for one.

Tip of the day: Beware of “rogue” anti-spyware programs. There is so much money to be made off of stealing corporate data, identities, and sending spam that the malware writers have created spyware that claims to prevent spyware. You think you’re installing a spyware remover, but you’re not. You are actually installing their malware.
Some claim to give you an anti-spyware scan for free, and they “discover” a critical infection (again bogus) which, if you buy the “Professional” version, they’ll clean up for you. Please, Dear Reader, never fall for this. The quality anti-spyware programs are well-known and are routinely rated and compared by reputable sources like PC World and PC Magazine and C/Net.

One such program is currently sending a few people my way for assistance, named Spy Shredder. There is plenty about this nasty on the Internet. Most reputable anti-spyware utilities will detect and remove this (see today’s free link as well) item. The people infected with it (who contacted me) had no protections except an antivirus, and it was kind of hard to feel sorry for them. There is no excuse, in this day and age, to not be running Internet Security programs. Full Internet Security Suites are easy to find that are free after rebate, after all.

For those of you looking here to find out how to remove Spy Shredder, I suggest you click on the word “anti-spyware” in my Tag Cloud, download and run the anti-spyware programs I have suggested in the “Today’s free links” area (always at the bottom of Tech-for Everyone articles), as well as today’s — do not try the manual removal methods found at other websites unless you’re a skilled Registry editor.

Today’s free link: SpyCatcher Express from Tenebril. From website:

  • Allows novice PC users to remove aggressive spyware
  • Stops next-generation, mutating spyware
  • Blocks reinstallation of aggressive spyware
  • Removes spyware safely and automatically  
  • Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul, All Right Reserved

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    September 12, 2007 - Posted by | anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, PC, rootkits, security, tech, Windows

    1 Comment »

    1. Really interesting post. definitely spyware has got a lot worse since the first one made 25 years ago.

      Like

      Comment by Disable Spyware | October 27, 2007 | Reply


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