The history of cybercrime frightens

February 26, 2023

Robert T. Morris, the creator of the Morris worm, one of the internets first malwares.

Courtesy of Wikimedia

Robert T. Morris, the creator of the Morris worm, one of the internet’s first malwares.

Alena Zhang, Eastside Editor-in-Chief

Throughout history, one of the biggest developments of society was the advancement of technology. Most notably, the creation of the world wide web in the late 1900s was one of technology’s most major strides. Among the greatest conveniences that followed the introduction of the internet is our ability to “Google” any question we have and the beginning of new Artificial Intelligence platforms such as ChatGPT providing answers we need within seconds. Despite these benefits, what risks are we taking with this ground-breaking development? 

The use of cyberspace can be detrimental to us through the increase in cyberwarfare and cybercrime. While the internet was invented in the late 1900s, it is significant to recognize the early uses of espionage technology. During World War II, Nazi Germany was able to use a point of origin to communicate using radio signals in which German bombers were able to fly throughout continental Europe to Great Britain during the Battle of the Beams. This was used as a way to know when their targets were within reach. Another way that belligerent powers were able to use radio frequencies was during the early 1900s where other nations would intercept them in order to gain intel on the location of the opposing countries. 

As technology developed via the formation of the internet, there were more incidents that pointed towards the intent of taking private information. This includes the 1994 “Rome Lab incident” in which a “sniffer”, entailing an unknown wiretap program, was discovered on the US Air Force’s development network. Attackers were able to steal the user names and passwords of the workers at the Rome Laboratory in New York. From this attack, an anonymous person who went by “Kuji” and a 16-year-old located in the United Kingdom were able to gain access to secret defense research projects and seize information that was kept on the computers of the Korean Atomic Research Institute among other crucial information hubs.

In 1988, there was also the creation of the Internet Worm which was spread throughout the Internet and was known to have destructive impacts to computers that were using the Internet during the same period of time. The worm was one of the first ever malware systems to exist and be able to spread to other computers. Such a worm was created by Robert T. Morris, hence the phenomenon was named the Morris Worm. Morris explained that such destruction was not supposed to occur and that the Worm was made to be harmless. However, a malfunction caused it to have such an impact. It is theorized that 6000 computers were impacted by this Worm, many of which belonged to the Pentagon, MIT, and NASA. Becoming aware that such incidents could happen, there was the creation of the Computer Emergency Response Team by the US government, with the mission of improving the protection of softwares and networks. Thus, aspects such as warnings, analysis, and solutions that would further improve networks and softwares to be less prone to incidents such as the use of the Worm began to be implemented.

As the age of technology continues to grow, we are not only faced with the increased comfort of doing tasks quicker, but the dangerous outlooks that follow. Everyday we face the risk of the influence of cyberattacks no matter how much protection may be improved. It is fundamental that we recognize such benefits and dangers as we grow with the adoption of technology now and in the future. It has always been so.

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