Meet the guy who wrote the first computer virus

If you’ve ever had to spend a lot of money on antivirus software, you’d be forgiven for wanting to take Dr Fred Cohen aside for, to put it politely, a few choice words.

But although Dr Cohen is responsible for creating the first ever computer virus some 26 years ago, his pioneering research has in fact led the way in protecting computers from the threats that surfaced in the years to come…

After a neighbouring university created a Trojan horse – which allowed hackers to gain access to a machine – Dr Cohen realised that the Trojan could be programmed to duplicate itself.

This is the proverbial lightbulb going off.

“I was sitting there in the class and all of a sudden it dawned on me that if that Trojan horse copied itself into other programs, then all those programs would be infected, and then everybody that ran any of those programs would get infected and so forth.

It was at that point immediately obvious that it was game over…”

Dr Cohen believes that genuine research into possible threats has not happened for quite some time.

“As far as I can tell, somewhere around the late eighties or early nineties was the end of the real research related to computer viruses.

“There are businesses that want to make sure they keep making money by having cures that fix the last one, but not the next one.”

NO! Say it isn’t so.

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