(Un)happy birthday: The computer virus turns 40

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(Un)happy birthday: The computer virus turns 40

Why is it always the wicked who live into ripe old age? The computer virus, that scourge of the securely unvigilant, has just turned 40. You'll forgive us if the champagne isn't flowing.

Two score years ago, the Creeper virus was released into the wild. Created by Bob Thomas in 1971, it used the precursor of the internet, ARPANET, to spread between DEC PDP 10 systems on the Tenex operating system.

The product of a simpler time, the Creeper virus did nothing more than display the message "I'm the creeper, catch me if you can!" on infected computer screens.

Its creator even released a cleaning program called "Reaper" that removed the Creeper code.

In today’s climate of malicious malware, identity theft and botnets, the Creeper virus sounds positively cuddly. Just last week, over 50 malicious apps were found on the Android Marketplace, sparking concerns over the security of Android phones.

In other words, despite having just turned forty, the old codger is sprightlier than ever.

To celebrate this dubious milestone, check out our rundown of the Top 10 Computer Viruses of All Time. Alternatvely, track down a malware author and administer some punishment.

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