Computers have amazing capabilities.  They can accomplish great tasks, make things move, communicate clearly, and think beyond human measure.  Computers have become like humans in nearly every imaginable manner, so it’s no surprise that computers can also get sick.

The computer revolution first began gaining speed in the late 1980s.  Since then, it has evolved to be a vital element in our society, our personal and our corporate lives.  Computers have become part and parcel to virtually all things we do day in, and day out. But with all good comes a little not good.  Some users have maliciously created computer viruses that have ill effects.  The range of computer viruses existing in our modern networks has a magnificent prominence in our lives, because of all the ways we depend on computers.  Despite our need for dependable computers, some people have nothing better to do but exercise their computer knowledge in a disastrous way, creating computer viruses.

The first computer virus, called “The Brain”, was released in 1986.  The Brain is a boot-sector virus, which occupies unused space on the disk to stop further use of memory space.  After it was made, The Brain quickly spread worldwide in 1987. The Brain virus was considered first to use stealth techniques, making the virus difficult to trace.

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On November 1, 1987 another virus surfaced.  The Lehigh virus was named after Lehigh University, the place where this particular virus was first recognized.  One Friday the thirteenth, in December of that same year, the Jerusalem virus was found at Hebrew University.  This virus has also gone by the names  “Friday the 13th”, “ArabStar”, and the “Black Window”.  This is one of the best-known and oldest  computer viruses in the world.

Two more viruses surfaced in 1988:  the Stone, which was the Internet Worm and the first bootstrap virus.  The Internet Worm caused mayhem in the business world as it crossed the United States overnight through a series of computer networks.  Then in 1989, the Dark Avenger was presented.  This was a fast-infector that possess the capability to infect new documents despite the presence of anti-virus software.  The Dark Avenger computer virus was intended to damage a system slowly.  The virus would go unnoticed initially, and damaged files would not be backed up.  Slowly it would consume more and more of your computer until it had created irreparable damage.

Software engineers and computer manufacturers began the public war against computer viruses around 1990.  Companies began to respond to growing public concern and the number of anti-virus products began to rise.  The risk of computer viruses was finally taken seriously.  IBM, McAfee,  Digital Dispatch and Iris all introduced their anti-virus products and software in 1990.  Despite their efforts, computer viruses grew faster,  sneakier and stronger.  Symantec Norton anti-virus was initially introduced  in 1991.

The introduction of Windows 95 brought both relief and discomfort to anti-virus corporations when it was released in 1995.    By then, most common computer viruses were still boot viruses that worked on DOS, but couldn’t replicate on Windows 95.  Then micro viruses were found in late 1995.  These computer viruses performed in the MS-Word environment,  instead of  DOS.  Again, the anti-virus industry faced challenges to combat these new batches of viruses.  With the introduction and growing popularity of the Internet in the late 1990s, viruses began to thrive at a much faster rate.

Throughout 1998 there was no lessening of computer virus attacks in MS Windows, MS Office,  MS Office and network applications.  New viruses continued to surface, and computers and advanced network-to-do applications continued to be infected.  In 1999, another virus showed up, infecting computers using Microsoft Word.  This computer virus may have been passed on through MS Outlook, or via Outlook Express e-mail programs.

The “I Love You” virus and the “Loveletter” virus, also known as “Love Bug” , is believed to have struck one in five PCs worldwide, making it the most widespread and the most costly computer virus the world had ever seen.  The “I Love You Virus” created fear and discord around the globe.  The virus was transferred by e-mail.  When the receiver opened the attachment, the virus was automatically sent to all in the user’s address book. The “I Love You” computer virus extended  at a dizzying rate of speed.

As long as we continue to use the Internet and share computer files, we are in danger of catching computer viruses.  Even today, more and more viruses are still being known, leading to big problems for all users, and creating ongoing dilemmas for the creators of anti-virus programs.

Getting sick, like people, is an unfortunate fact of life for computers.  Using up-to-date anti-virus software is a sort of preventative medicine, helping to maintain computers healthy and computer viruses at bay.

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