In the first half of the 1980s, computer viruses -- programs that reproduce themselves by "infecting" other programs -- existed mostly in labs. A few had managed to find their way into the wild on the Apple II platform, but for the most part they were tightly controlled by computer researchers.
And then came Brain. Discovered in the first weeks of 1986, it was the first PC virus to widely circulate in the wild. Distributed via 5.25-inch floppy diskettes, Brain's spread was extremely slow by today's standards -- but it unleashed a tide of ever-more harmful viruses, worms, and other malware that we're still struggling with 20 years later.
To bring the last two decades of malware into sharp focus, we've put together a package of fascinating and detailed stories:
A Brief History Of Viral Time chronicles how malware has evolved over the past 20 years, from one-trick viruses that spread via floppy disks, through mass-mailing worms that took advantage of users' e-mail contacts, up to today's devious spyware, rootkits, and more. Be sure not to miss the in-depth Flash timeline of virus milestones on the first page. (If you'd rather see the timeline in a small pop-up window, click here.)
The 10 Most Destructive Viruses Of All Time is, well, a chronological look at some of the most destructive viruses of all time. These were the viruses and worms that brought businesses to their knees and caused massive Internet slowdowns.