History of the oldest cyber-attack; The Morris worm

History of the oldest cyber-attack

In olden days, cyber-attacks were rare when compared to the today’s cyber-attack, but still they existed. To be precise the first cyber-attack was reported in 1988. After 33 years down the aisle, cyber-attacks have found new ways to infect and cause destruction.

The first worm or malware of the cyber world was created for a good intention. They were not designed with any negative traits that can cause demolition. The first cyber worm was created by Robert Tappan Morris who was a graduate student of the Cornell University. Morris had good technical skills which helped him to create such a worm.

The basic motive behind this was to create a program that accessed the size of the internet. It was during the time when internet just got discovered and researchers were studying about the possibilities to use them. So, in order to help them, Morris created the worm. The speciality of the worm is that they would automatically get into a web network, spreads to different computers and creates the replica of themselves. The process and the result would be recorded which finally helps them to understand how many computers are connected to internet.

The test worm was successful, so Morris decided to spread them through different networks but unfortunately, the impact given by the worms changed caused him deep trouble. He programmed the worm is such a way that the worm replicated 7 times when it entered into a new system.

As this replication went on, the worm got evolved and started to crash the systems. This was said to be the first Denial of Service attack in the world history.

According to the findings, this worm mainly targeted systems having UNIX operating system. For these worms this operating system was easy to replicate and cause further damage.

Morris was blamed for the whole loss caused by the worm. According to the reports, approximately 6000 computers were affected. The worm also took over the government officials systems and caused a packed punch of most of the files present in them.

The government spent around 1 million dollars to recover the lost files and to repair the affected systems.

Morris was held captive for the charge of criminal violation under fraud and Abuse act. He was sent to prison for three years and a fine of 10,000 dollars.

Morris was just 20 when he was accused of the cybercrime. This attack happened during the era when people had no protective security softwares. The concept of cyber security was just in ‘thoughts’ during those times. Morris worm had an impeccable spreading speed and took down the system in a limited time frame.

Finally the worm was stopped by the security researchers Purdine and Berkley. It took them 72 hours to stop the malicious spread. These happenings did not dishearten Morris. After his release, he started a job as a professor at MIT during the late 1990’s.


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