Evolution of Malware
The history of malware dates back to almost 40 years ago. The concept of mobile applications was just starting to take fruition, although in a very primitive format, when compared to today’s apps. During this time, computer scientists had come up with a software code, called the ‘Creeper’ program, which was designed and created to move itself from one computer to another.
This particular piece of software code made its way around the ‘APRANET’, which was the first version of the Internet, as we know it today.
Not expected by the people who designed it, ‘Creeper’ made its way around very quickly, infecting every computer in its path. This has been deemed to be the first true computer malware. The next wave of malware to hit the scenes was known as the ‘Morris Worm’. This demonstrated how a simple piece of maliciously written software code can infect hundreds, if not thousands of computers in just a matter of minutes.
Then, during the late 1990’s and into the 2000’s, the sophistication of malware continued to evolve, literally pushing the bar to higher levels as to how quickly it could spread itself. But, the scope of the damage left by the malware software programs was limited to how the code was written. Meaning, malware could only infect one computer at a time.
By 2007, all of this changed. The concept of the ‘Botnet’ was now born. With this new technique, a hacker could now gain centralized control over hundreds of thousands of infected computers, and make all of them work together to launch a massive, orchestrated attack. Also, malware programs became dynamic in nature instead of being static.
As a result, an attacker could now modify the malware threat vector to capture passwords, credit card data, and other types of financial information, thus giving a steep rise to the cases in Identity Theft.
Today’s malware software code has become very covert, and stealthy in design. Threats and attacks can occur anywhere, at any point in time, in just a matter of seconds. Also, malware can even go undetected by even the best anti-virus software programs for long periods of time.
This is best exemplified by the recent malware attack which infected hundreds of ATM machines worldwide (specifically in the United States, India, China, Israel, France and Malaysia). This became known as the ‘Tyupkin Malware’, which was designed to steal money from the bank accounts of unsuspecting customers.
The sophistication of malware attacks is only going to become more proliferated into the coming years. For example, it is expected that the actual design of malware software code will not change too much, but the way in which the attacks are carried out, and whom the intended victims are, will become much more devastating.
Future malware threats and attacks will prey heavily upon Social Media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.), wireless devices (such as smartphones, netbooks, and tablets), customers using mobile payments, Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, and E-Commerce platforms, such as mobile wallets (like Google Wallet and ApplePay).