Part of getting older is looking at the next generation and marveling at how easy they have things, or their lack of knowledge of key things we grew up with.

Take the record player for example, or even the cassette tape – my kids don’t know what either of those are, and my youngest hasn’t ever used a CD, having grown up entirely with those MP3 things, whatever they are.

Its the same case with computing. My older children remember installing games and programs from DVD but my little one doesn’t even have an optical drive on her desktop – its USB sticks and downloads for her.

The same thing cannot be said for malware though.

Us oldies did have it easier in many respects, even if those who came after us are blissfully unaware of the fact that viruses were in circulation long before Erwise, Mosaic and Netscape ushered us into a pre-NSA era of information overload on the new worldwide web.

In January of 1986 the first virus in history was created in Pakistan, as discovered by Mikko Hypponen:

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Following that, more viruses soon appeared and, like Brain, were spread via floppy disk, another antiquity that many internet users today will never have seen nor heard of.

Those early viruses were nothing like the ones we see nowadays though.

Early malware was, at worst, disruptive (wiping drives) and, at times, humourous (remember the ambulance that also featured sound?) in nature. It was largely produced by what is now a poor stereotype for a hacker – kids in their bedrooms, who were learning coding and having a bit of ‘fun’ along the way.

Unfortunately, subsequent years have seen a huge shift in the way malware is developed, and in its intention, as seen in the infographic below:

Infographic - a history of malware

Modern malware, as you can see, is now the preserve of not one individual coder but large organised gangs. The intention of such malware has changed dramatically too. Mere mischief is a thing of the past – today’s viruses are all about generating huge profits for online criminals and for arguably far more nefarious purposes too when those behind them have affiliations to nation states.

In 2014 malware is still breathing strongly, 28 years after it first appeared. Floppy disk attacks are long gone but email and internet attacks are here to stay and seemingly lurking around every corner.

Sure, defences are much improved too, but the fact that malware keeps evolving just keeps on ramming home the point that security is a reactive rather than proactive industry.

As such, you can never be one step ahead of an attacker, only as best prepared as possible.

So what have you done to secure your personal devices, your employees’ machines and your business networks from not only malware but all the other threats that technological ‘advancement’ has brought?

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