A virus is a small piece of software that piggybacks on real programs. For example, a virus might attach itself to a program such as a spreadsheet program. Each time the spreadsheet program runs, the virus runs, too, and it has the chance to reproduce (by attaching to other programs) or wreak havoc

1983 Fred Cohen, while working on his dissertation, formally defines a computer virus as “a computer program that can affect other computer programs by modifying them in such a way as to include a (possibly evolved) copy of itself.”
1986 Two programmers named Basit and Amjad replace the executable code in the boot sector of a floppy disk with their own code designed to infect each 360kb floppy accessed on any drive. Infected floppies had “© Brain” for a volume label.
1987 The Lehigh virus, one of the first file viruses, infects command.com files.
1990 Symantec launches Norton AntiVirus, one of the first antivirus programs developed by a large company
1992 1300 viruses are in existence, an increase of 420% from December of 1990. The Dark Avenger Mutation Engine (DAME) is created. It is a toolkit that turns ordinary viruses into polymorphic viruses. The Virus Creation Laboratory (VCL) is also made available. It is the first actual virus creation kit.
1996 Baza, Laroux (a macro virus), and Staog viruses are the first to infect Windows95 files, Excel, and Linux respectively
1999 The Melissa virus, W97M/Melissa, executes a macro in a document attached to an email
2000 The Love Bug, also known as the ILOVEYOU virus, sends itself out via Outlook, much like Melissa
2001 The Nimda virus infects hundreds of thousands of computers in the world. The virus is one of the most sophisticated to date with as many as five different methods of replicating and infecting systems
2002 Author of the Melissa virus, David L. Smith, is sentenced to 20 months in federal prison.
2003 In January the relatively benign “Slammer” (Sapphire) worm becomes the fastest spreading worm to date, infecting 75,000 computers in approximately ten minutes, doubling its numbers every 8.5 seconds in its first minute of infection.
2004 In January a computer worm, called MyDoom or Novarg, spreads through emails and file-sharing software faster than any previous virus or worm

Terminology:

 
Worm

A worm is a small piece of software that uses computer networks and security holes to replicate itself. A copy of the worm scans the network for another machine that has a specific security hole. It copies itself to the new machine using the security hole, and then starts replicating from there, as well.
Social Engineering Term used among crackers and samurai for cracking techniques that rely on weaknesses in wetware rather than software; the aim is to trick people into revealing passwords or other information that compromises a target system's security.
E-mail

An e-mail virus moves around in e-mail messages, and usually replicates itself by automatically mailing itself to dozens of people in the victim's e-mail address book.
Anti-virus Program

Programs to detect and remove computer viruses. The simplest kind scans executable files and boot blocks for a list of known viruses
Hoax An act intended to deceive or trick.
Trojan horses

A Trojan horse is simply a computer program. The program claims to do one thing (it may claim to be a game) but instead does damage when you run it (it may erase your hard disk). Trojan horses have no way to replicate automatically

 

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