5 things that may surprise you about the first PC virus

In early 2011, 25 years after the creation of the first PC virus, F-Secure’s Chief Research Officer and legendary code warrior Mikko Hypponen went on a journey to find the creators of the first virus.

Here are a few intriguing facts about the first PC virus:

  1. The gentlemen who wrote the virus—Amjad Farooq Alvi and Basit Farooq Alvi—included their name, address and phone number in the code. Before long, of course, they had to change that phone number.
  2. The name of the virus—Brain—is also the name of a successful telecommunication business that the brothers still run in Lahore, Pakistan.
  3. The virus could only be spread via 5 ¼-inch floppy disks and still managed to be reach around the globe in a matter of weeks.
  4. The first PC virus was also the first rootkit, a program designed to conceal itself.
  5. The brothers designed Brain to test the multi-tasking functionality in the new DOS operating system.

What was the most interesting thing you learned from Mikko’s trip to Pakistan? Let us know in the comments.

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Why your Apple Watch will probably never be infected by malware

On Tuesday Apple announced its latest iPhone models and a new piece of wearable technology some have been anxiously waiting for -- Apple Watch. TechRadar describes the latest innovation from Cupertino as "An iOS 8-friendly watch that plays nice with your iPhone." And if it works like your iPhone, you can expect that it will free of all mobile malware threats, unless you decide to "jailbreak" it. The latest F-Secure Labs Threat Report clears up one big misconception about iOS malware: It does exist, barely. In the first half of 2014, 295 new families and variants or mobile malware were discovered – 294 on Android and one on iOS.  iPhone users can face phishing scams and Wi-Fi hijacking, which is why we created our Freedome VPN, but the threat of getting a bad app on your iOS device is almost non-existent. "Unlike Android, malware on iOS have so far only been effective against jailbroken devices, making the jailbreak tools created by various hacker outfits (and which usually work by exploiting undocumented bugs in the platform) of interest to security researchers," the report explains. The iOS threat that was found earlier this year, Unflod Baby Panda, was designed to listen to outgoing SSL connections in order to steal the device’s Apple ID and password details. Apple ID and passwords have been in the news recently as they may have played a role in a series of hacks of celebrity iCloud accounts that led to the posting of dozens of private photos. Our Mikko Hypponen explained in our latest Threat Report Webinar that many users have been using these accounts for years, mostly to purchase items in the iTunes store, without realizing how much data they were actually protecting. But Unflod Baby Panda is very unlikely to have played any role in the celebrity hacks, as "jailbreaking" a device is still very rare. Few users know about the hack that gives up the protection of the "closed garden" approach of the iOS app store, which has been incredibly successful in keeping malware off the platform, especially compared to the more open Android landscape. The official Play store has seen some infiltration by bad apps, adware and spamware -- as has the iOS app store to a far lesser degree -- but the majority of Android threats come from third-party marketplaces, which is why F-Secure Labs recommends you avoid them. The vast majority of iPhone owners have never had to worry about malware -- and if the Apple Watch employs the some tight restrictions on apps, the device will likely be free of security concerns. However, having a watch with the power of a smartphone attached to your body nearly twenty-four hours a day promises to introduce privacy questions few have ever considered.    

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