With the many malicious viruses and different types of aggressive malware out there today, it seems odd to think that just a few decades ago, at the birth of networks and the world wide web, security wasn’t always a top concern. In fact, in the very early stages of ARPANET, a packet-switched network funded by the Pentagon, a number of intrusions were said to be made by high school students. Similar as it may seem to today’s events regarding TalkTalk, this was back when cyber security didn’t exist, and it was the first in a long line of attacks that prompted computer scientists all around the world to take action and implement security measures.
The Beginnings of Hacking – ‘Phreaking’ and the Need to Break and Enter
Cyber criminals and network criminals, it seems, have been around since there have been networks. ‘Phreaking’, or the act of hacking phone lines to make free calls, was a popular technique used in the seventies and the early days of networks. One of the more famous phreakers, was John Draper (or ‘Captain Crunch’ as he was known), who pioneered the practice and was later arrested and convicted due to repeated attacks.
Cyber Crime Pays – Early Internet Viruses and ‘Worms’
As the internet grew, so did the attack attempts, and before long, the first viruses, or ‘worms’, began to appear. In 1989, Robert Morris unleashed the first computer worm on the internet, which managed to take down much of what was online at the time. Luckily, in the late eighties, the internet was not as big of a part of our day-to-day lives as it is now, and so the effects were not as pronounced as they would be today. The ‘worm’ virus became the first crime to be convicted under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The worm case gained publicity after a number of early viruses had been unleashed earlier in the 1980’s, such as the ‘Brain’ virus of 1986.
The Internet Gets Serious
By this point the internet is no longer considered a novelty or specialist network. By 2003 the behaviour of the average web user began to change, e-commerce was now becoming a thing, and while not the mass-pastime and convenience that it is today, it spawned the growth of online customer data.
Smartphones Rise and so Does Our Data
Credit card details now became vulnerable due to the large amount of people using online banking and shopping. Our data now becomes vulnerable, and so naturally, cyber security is a global issue. It isn’t just personal data and business data that becomes top priority to protect, military information now becomes targeted over the web. MI5, MI6 and the FBI now have some of the best computer programmers from around the world working for them, and as terrorism rises, so does the tension surrounding huge-scale cyber attacks.
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