The Evolution of Cyber Security from the 1940s to 2010s — A Comprehensive Guide

MontelentJune 13, 2022
The Evolution of Cyber Security from the 1940s to 2010s — A Comprehensive Guide

Nowadays, every small to large scale company is emphasising deploying effective cybersecurity protocols. But, it’s not new; with the advancement in the field of the internet, online threats also developed. The risk of data breaching was less in the 1900s compared to this modern technological era.

Moreover, at that time, few had the authority to use internet connection to serve their work purposes. With the rapid internet accessibility in the 2000s, the number of cyber-attacks has increased. And, this has led to the urge to implement different data security solutions in the 21st century.

Earlier, cybersecurity threats were easy to identify and prevent. But, over the years, online hackers have advanced their data breaching methods. Cybercriminals are using phishing scams to get easy access to user’s sensitive data. But, in the 1990s, it was impossible to get data from nearby devices.

There were also many other limitations associated with the age-old cyber attacking approaches. Even the cybersecurity solutions were not that effective a few years back. So, let’s find out which factors helped to develop the cybersecurity practices and solutions in this modern era:

The 1940s — An Era with Less Cyber Crimes

Do you know when the first computer was introduced in the global market? Well, between 1936-1938, Konrad Zuse completed designing Z1. It was the first electro-mechanical binary computer. But at that time, it was pretty difficult to carry out the cyber-attacking tasks using this digital computer. Because a few were given access to this electric-driven device.

Moreover, a small number of individuals knew how to operate a computer in 1943. So, it can be stated that, during the 1940s, the cybersecurity threat was almost non-existent. But in 1949, John von Neumann, a renowned pioneer, first discovered computer viruses. Further, he even made a public statement on how this malware or viruses can affect the device. But, he wasn’t sure about how computer users could deter these sorts of problems. At that time, the best raid data recovery Dubai experts were unable to provide any solution.

The 1950s — Introduction of Phone Phreaking Attacks

By the 1950s, millions of people started using telephones to communicate from one country to another. And, this has led to the emergence of phone phreaking attacks in this era. Phreaking or phone phreaking is a fraudulent practise of breaking into the phone company’s network. And, by doing this, the hackers used to take advantage of making free calls across the country. At that time, phone companies were incapable of withstanding such network attacks.

Though phone phreaking has become obsolete, in some parts of the world, it is still practised. Many believe that after the up-gradation of the telephone lines, phone phreaking has stopped. But, call spoofing is still a thing, especially the Android users with LTE networks often faced this.

The 1960s — First Reference to Malicious Hacking was Found

During this time, many companies had started to protect their computers from hackers. Though, there was no privacy concern of internet usage, enhancing the device’s security became essential. A large number of organisation owners limited access to the company’s computers. Additionally, the employers enforced basic security measures, like multi-layered passwords in the PCs.

With password protection, the small-large enterprises ensured the essential data are stored in a safe place. Even, some used to lock these devices in the temperature-controlled rooms to prevent data breaching. But, many students attempted to access data from the educational institutions’ computers. At this stage, there was no such intention of the hackers; they used to do it out of curiosity.

In 1967, IBM, the first computer manufacturer, invited a few school students to explore their new devices. And, after working for a while, these students easily gained access to essential files of the computers. This paved the way for securing the data of the personal computers of this era. After a few months, the students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology first mentioned hacking in a newspaper. These MIT students started to work on improving the limitations of the existing programs in the 1960s.

The 1970s — ARPANET was Invented

In 1972, with the introduction of ARPANET, many individuals got easy access to the internet on their computers. And, from this time, cybersecurity became a prime concern for both the employee and employers. Bob Thomas first designed and developed a program named “Creeper” which can move across the ARPANET network. But, Thomas didn’t create this program to withdraw the network-related information.

In 1972, Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of electronic network mail, discovered “Reaper”. It was the first antivirus program that was only used to display a message whether the device is infected. Reaper prevented Creeper from entering into the user’s computers. From 1972-1974, many individuals installed cybersecurity programs.

In 1979, Kevin Mitnick first fraudulently acquired unauthorised access to a computer network. And, he hacked this network after collecting the phone number of Ark. It was a computer system that DEC was using to develop RSTS/E OS. Even the FBI arrested Mitnick for attempting several high-profile cyberattacks. And, now he has become a renowned computer security expert and also runs a cybersecurity company.

The 1980s — Transition from ARPANET to Internet

During this era, many online hackers tried to breach the information security companies, including AT&T and National CSS. In 1983, many research workers used the terms Trojan Horse or Computer Virus. Moreover, at the time of the Cold War, the number of cyberattacks also increased. For this reason, in 1985, the US Department of Defence came up with new cybersecurity rules. Based on these guidelines, the companies limited the access to computer users to prevent cybercrimes. Also, computer manufacturers started equipping security measures to protect sensitive information.

In 1986, Marcus Hess, a German hacker, hacked more than 400 military computers using an internet gateway. And, after hacking the ARPANET network, he transferred these data to KGB. In the 1980s, many computer users noticed an increase in file size. And, this was a potential sign of malware or virus attack of this century. So, the employers trained the employees to identify this cybersecurity to deter this problem quickly.

Which Antivirus Programs Were Launched in 1987?

In this year, plenty of commercial antivirus software manufacturers launched new applications. Andreas Lüning and Kai Figge designed the first antivirus program, “Ultimate Virus Killer”, for the Atari ST’s PCs. Moreover, Czechoslovakians invented the NOD antivirus also in this year.

John McAfee released two antivirus programs — McAfee and VirusScan in the United States. In 1988, Avast also introduced its first antivirus software, which millions of users use, to prevent cyberattacks.

The 1990s — An Internet-driven Era

In the 1990s, a large number of people started to use the internet to run their businesses. And, the cyberattackers found an easy way to reach out to the government official’s private data. Thus, it became essential to secure the office’s networks with effective data security measures.

In 1996, cybercriminals came up with new data breaching methods and techniques. These posed new challenges to antivirus software developers. As their programs were incapable of detecting such harmful viruses/worms.

In 1999, the Melissa Virus caused a severe business loss in US-based companies. And, this virus infects the user’s device via Word documents. After that, it used to send the copy of those Word files to the first 50 email addresses of Microsoft Outlook. So, many companies installed firewalls and antivirus software to minimise these risk factors.

What were the Cybersecurity Threats of the 2000s, 2010s and 2020s?

In 2001, many computer users came across cyberattacks by visiting malicious websites. Additionally, the implementation of zero-day attacks increased in the 2000s. And, this increased the deployment of new antivirus software and applications.

Cisco released the first-ever cross-platform and open-source antivirus program. Avast also launched its free version of antivirus software with advanced society features. Between 2007-2008, Panda Security and McAfee added cloud-based security solutions.

The 2010s era witnessed many high-profile data breaches and cyber-attacks. And, this became a major threat to the nation’s security. In 2012, OXOMAR, a Saudi hacker leaked the credit card details of more than 400,000 users online. Moreover, Edward Snowden hacked the computers of the National Security Agency in 2013. From 2013-2014, many cybercriminals tracked down billions of Yahoo user’s personal information.


With Wannacry, the online hackers infected more than 230,000 computers in a day. Due to the multiple DDoS attacks, Sweden’s stock market faced huge losses in 2019. To prevent these unprecedented threats, in the 2020s, experts launched effective cybersecurity methods. Starting from Multi-factor authentication to Sandboxing, you get plenty of security solutions. So, get a next-gen cybersecurity measure and identify the malicious programs with ease.

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