how cybersecurity has evolved

How Cybersecurity Has Evolved

It’s 2021 and cybersecurity is big business despite the crises brought by COVID-19. Let’s look back and see how cybersecurity has evolved over the years. 

Did you know that the solution to some of the earliest cybercrime was to shut down the entire Internet? It is just amazing to see how cybersecurity has evolved at the speed of light. Moreover, cybersecurity shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the COVID-19 has even skyrocketed the need for cybersecurity professionals. 

It’s worth having a look at the past so we can better respond to current and future attacks. Read on to see how cybersecurity has evolved since the invention of its concept. 

Reaper and Creeper 

The dreaded computer virus we know now actually started innocently enough. Back in the early 1970s, Bob Thomas wrote the code for a program that is capable of moving between computers connected by ARPANET (forerunner of the Internet). Thomas’ program had no malicious intent. It would only playfully the message, “I’m the creeper: catch me if you can!”

Thomas’ friend and colleague Ray Tomlinson (inventor of e-mail) wrote Reaper as a response to the Creeper’s teasing. Reaper would not just move between computers on the network. It can also copy itself as it went. Moreover, Tomlinson’s program would delete Thomas’ creeper, earning it the name ‘reaper’.

The Creeper is widely considered the first computer worm in history. Meanwhile, Reaper inspired an early programming game. Hence, Reaper and Creeper undoubtedly became an event of cultural significance. 

The Morris Worm 

In 1989, Robert Morris created the Morris Worm, the first widespread denial-of-service attack. Morris claimed that the worm was only to measure the size of the Internet. However, the worm would massively slow down each computer it infected. Reports suggested that the Morris Worm affected 6,000 computers or around 10% of computers connected to the Internet at the time. 

The response at the time was to disconnect regional networks for several days. In other words, it meant shutting down the Internet. Just imagine how much chaos would that measure bring in our time today! 

Of course, shutting down the Internet is not a viable solution for every attack. This paved the way for the establishment of CERTs  – a team responsible for responding to huge cyber emergencies. 

The 90s wave

CERTs stand for Computer Emergency Response Teams. As the name implies, they were able to fight and respond to viruses. However, CERTs were not able to prevent outbreaks. The 90s was the time when viruses started evolving rate – both in numbers and complexity. Fortunately, antivirus software entered the industry to detect and prevent viruses from executing. 

The digital age and beyond

Big antivirus companies dominated for about 20 years. However, in 2014, larger and more organized attacks demanded better security solutions. One of such attacks is the 2013 Target breach. Over 40 million credit card details were hacked. The security methods at the time were not enough to prevent it. 

Since 2014, new, innovative strategies such as AI and machine learning have entered the industry. Such technologies have brought great effects to cybersecurity. 

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