With technology evolving at a rapid pace and businesses having more opportunities to further improve their operations, the risk of experiencing a cyber attack is higher than ever. Among the different terms that have come to light in recent years, no term has challenged the modern business landscape and brought about fear than malware.


Nowadays, the assortment of malware types and their corresponding variants have become much more plentiful than ever, as hackers and cybercriminals remain only a single step behind security firms to keep their own opportunistic efforts viable. Given the level of talk and concern surrounding the concept of malware itself, there’s no doubt that your business has to be especially cautious. Beyond following best practices, purchasing tech solutions, and other factors of keeping your business as safe as possible, however, there’s one key aspect of the concept that you need to be mindful of: its history.


The History of Malware

While it may not have been around for as long as health scares and actual biological viruses, malware has dealt quite a significant amount of damage in its four decades of existence. What most people don’t know about this type of problem, however, is that beating it entails being mindful of key trends associated with it—an effort that requires a closer look at its history.


If you aren’t well-versed with the history of malware, then it isn’t too late to learn more about it. We’ve got you covered with this in-depth guide so you can get up to speed:


The 1980s and 1990s

The history of modern viruses begins with a program called Elk Cloner—the very first example of malware that echoed what was to come in the following decades of rising digital dependence.


Elk Cloner’s programs started infecting Apple II systems in 1982 after being disseminated by infected floppy disks. Its structure allowed it to spread to all disks attached to a system. While the virus itself was harmless, it spread so fast to the point where it was considered the first large-scale computer virus outbreak in history—and since then, digi-viruses have become widespread and increasingly uncontrollable.


At the turn of the 90s, Microsoft Windows began its long run as the most popular OS in the world—but this didn’t come without its troubles, as the number of viruses written for the platform grew sharply as well. Trouble began when malware authors began to write infectious code in the macro language of Microsoft Word, which resulted in macro viruses that would infect documents and templates rather than executable applications!

In the 2000s

 After the threat of Y2K quickly blew over, the newly-technologically-christened human race faced a bigger problem: more advanced malware.


With the dawn of Instant Messaging (IM), hackers saw a key opportunity to develop worms that would infiltrate the systems of platforms like AOL, AIM, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger. The attacks caused by these worms started with a social engineering ploy that relied on prompts like “Who’s with you in this picture?” or “OMG, I think you won the lottery!”—leading users to click a link to a malicious download. Once a system was infected, the IM worm would spread by sending malicious download links to everyone on a contact list!


In the latter half of the first decade of the 21st century, digital natives saw a new rising threat in the form of adware attacks that cost businesses millions of dollars in fines. The way Adware attacks worked and proliferated was by presenting unwanted advertisements to computer screens in the form of a pop-up window that users couldn’t close. Following a bait-and-switch method, these ads exploited legitimate software as a means to spread as they often encouraged recipients to click fraudulent links. This particular format would, later on, act as the guideline for succeeding scams like Trojans, malvertising, and tech support scams!



Currently, Ransomware is on a quick pace towards making its big comeback. Crafty cyber-criminals are scheming their way into understanding the nuances of newer technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrency to keep up.


What makes this upcoming wave of trouble especially dangerous is that cybercriminals shifted their focus from individual consumers to business targets. With attacks on businesses rising by as much as 365 percent from Q2 of 2018 to Q2 of 2019, it’s critical to start protecting your company from company-killing malware. Fortunately, you can prevent your firm from becoming another cybercrime statistic by employing the services of an expert, like us here at Fraudwatch International!


While there are many methods that can be employed to effectively fight malware head-on, the most effective approaches generally include a proper understanding of its history. By taking the time to keep the key points mentioned above into consideration, you’ll be able to ensure that you’ll be equipped with enough knowledge to stay on top of persistent cyber threats!


FraudWatch International is a global brand protection company that specializes in helping businesses all over the world with our anti-malware and cyber-attack prevention services. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help keep your business safe online!