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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Join the Fight against Cyber Censorship

For this year's World Day against Cyber Censorship, F-Secure is giving away free subscriptions for our one-button Freedome app. You can use the key qsf257 to get a free 3-month subscription to Freedome! Freedom of expression is an important issue for everyone. Developments over the past year have highlighted how sensitive the matter is. It transcends national and cultural borders, yet these borders shape the issue differently for people across the globe. It belongs to us all, but it means different things to different people. Reporters without Borders launched the World Day against Cyber Censorship in 2008. Its intent is to raise awareness that our rights to say what we really think are not something to take for granted. Free speech is a dynamic concept that constantly grows and contracts in the face of developments that threaten its growth. While the Internet has given many people across the globe a powerful new voice, there are always threats mobilizing against this invaluable resource. The World Day against Cyber Censorship draws attention to this struggle. Last year Reporters without Borders compiled a list of what they call “Enemies of the Internet” as part of the annual event. If you look through it you’ll notice a diverse list of government agencies from nations across the world. Many of the events that highlight the fragility of our digital freedoms are attributable to these institutions, such as the Gemalto hack that saw the encryption keys to millions of phone calls stolen by the NSA and its fellow conspirators. And in some cases surveillance is just the beginning, as once these institutions identify their targets they can escalate their actions to include oppression. Hong Kong protestors saw this when local pro-democracy websites became infected with malware. Turkish people saw this during the Twitter crackdown. Drawing attention to these agencies as “enemies” of the Internet places the struggle within a larger dichotomy – enemies and allies. Even if it is a bit of a cliché or oversimplification of the conflict, it points out that people still have an opportunity to mobilize and assert their rights. And nobody is alone in this fight - we all have enemies and allies in this struggle. Having said all of this, World Day against Cyber Censorship isn't all about doom-and-gloom. Reporters without Borders is working to circumvent a number of websites blocked by governments. The Electronic Frontier Foundation continues to work to inform, educate, and represent the voices crying out for a free and open Internet. And F-Secure wants to help by making privacy and security solutions easy and accessible for people all over the world. Just get your trial version of the app and then use the key when it asks for your subscription number. Freedome gives you a one-button app that lets you encrypt your communications, disable trackers, and even change your virtual location. Check out this blog post for more information about the app. It's first come first serve, so don't miss this chance to take control of your digital freedom!

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Mikko Hypponen to Talk Privacy at the Mobile World Congress

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Feb 27, 2015
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What is a DoS attack really?

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