In the mid-eighties, so legend has it, the Amjad brothers of Pakistan ran a computer store. Frustrated by computer piracy, they wrote the first computer virus, a boot sector virus called Brain. From those simple beginnings, an entire counter-culture industry of virus creation and distribution emerged, leaving us today with several tens of thousands of viruses. In just over a decade, most of us have been familiar with the term computer virus.

A large portion of modern computing life is to secure the information that we are creating and processing. There are many aspects of information security, ranging from physical access to ensuring that the information has not been changed in any way. One of the most high-profile threats to information integrity is the computer virus. Surprisingly, PC viruses have been around for two-thirds of the IBM PC’s lifetime, appearing in 1986. With global computing on the rise, computer viruses have had more visibility in the past two years.

Despite our awareness of computer viruses, how many of us can define what one is, or how it infects computers? This seminar aims to demystify the basics of computer viruses, summarizing what they are, how they attack and what we can do to protect ourselves against them.

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