Have you ever wondered how long ransomware has been a thing? You might think it all started in 2013 with CryptoLocker, but, that is not correct. The first ransomware variant was introduced when I was still in elementary school.
In 1989, a Harvard graduate and evolutionary biologist named Joseph Popp took full advantage of the fear surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and distributed the AIDS Trojan/PC Cyborg via floppy disks. Joseph labeled his floppy disks “Aids Info Disk” and mailed them to his victims.
The AIDS trojan replaced the AUTOEXEC.BAT file and then began to count the number of times the PC was rebooted. Once 90 reboots occurred; AIDS hid the directories and encrypted the names of all files on the C:\ drive. When the AIDS trojan ran, it displayed a EULA which asked the user to ‘renew the license’ and contact PC Cyborg Corporation for payment. The payment demand asked for $189 mailed to a post office box in Panama).
So why did it take so many years for the attacks to become rampant? The answer is simple. Cryptocurrency provided cybercriminals an easy avenue to extort payments. In just a few short years after the introduction of cryptocurrency, the first crypto virus demanding bitcoin payment was created. Since that first crypto ransom, the ransomware attacks have become more sophisticated and the ransomware dollar demands have skyrocketed.