A program named “Rother J” was the first computer virus to come into sight “in the wild” — that is, outside the single computer or lab where it was created. Created in 1981 by Richard Skrenta, it attached itself to the Apple DOS 3.3 operating system and spread via floppy disk. This virus was created as a practical joke when Richard Skrenta was still in high school. It was injected in a game on a floppy disk. On its 50th use the Elk Cloner virus would be activated, infecting the computer and displaying a short poem beginning “Elk Cloner: The program with a personality.”
The worst MS-DOS virus ever, Michelangelo (1991) attacked the boot sector of your hard drive and any floppy drive inserted into the computer, which caused the virus to spread rapidly. After spreading quietly for months, the virus “activated” on March 6, and promptly started destroying data on tens of thousands of computers.
Your computer can’t get infected simply by displaying an e-mail message. Nor can even the most virulent virus destroy the electronic circuitry of your processor.
70 percent of virus writers work under contract for organized crime syndicates.
A virus can not appear on your computer all by iself. You have to get it by sharing infected files or diskettes, or by downloading infected files from the Internet.
If you remember nothing else about computer viruses, try to keep these three facts in mind: + You can’t get a virus just by reading your email.