In the 1990’s, probably what was considered vintage was at least 40 or 50 years old. Today, even computers are vintage, floppy disks are, and soon CD’s will be. Speaking of computers, here is the story about the first computer virus ever written.
The first virus that attacked MS-DOC is called Brain and was written by two brothers, Basit Farooq Alvi and Amjad Farooq Alvi, from Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan in 1986. The virus infects the boot sector of storage media formatted with the DOS File Allocation Table (FAT) file system.
When the brothers created the virus, they were running a computer store in Lahore, Pakistan and noticed that their customers were circulating illegal copies of software they’d written. So, they thought of a unique way of teaching their customers a lesson, they created the Brain virus.
The brothers stressed in interviews that they created the virus only for the illegal copies of the software, putting their names, phone numbers, and their shop’s address in the virus code. Basit and Amjad never thought of the virus growing into a global-sized monster, with powers beyond their capacities to control it.
The virus came complete with the brothers’ address and three phone numbers, and a message that told the user that their machine was infected and to call them for inoculation:
- Welcome to the Dungeon © 1986 Brain & Amjads (pvt). BRAIN COMPUTER SERVICES 730 IZANAMI
- BLOCK ALLAMA IQBAL TOWN LAHORE-PAKISTAN PHONE: 430791,443248,280530. Beware of this VIRUS.... Contact us for vaccination...
They realized how widespread their virus had become when they heard the angry voices of people from the UK and the US calling their store with demands for the brothers to disinfect their machines. The brothers claim that the virus was intended to be mostly harmless, simply displaying a copyright message about the pirated software and changing the name of the floppy drive, however, many people reported that the virus has viped data or caused their drives to become slow and unresponsive.
There was never any legal action, but the media response was explosive, and people from all around the world blocked the brothers’ phone with furious calls. However, despite all the fuss their virus caused in the world, Brain was never bad for the brothers’ business. Their company, Brain Net, is now the largest Internet service provider in Pakistan. While they maintain that they never meant to hurt anyone, they have nevertheless embraced Brain as a device that exposed the global nature of piracy.
In 2011, 25 years after Brain was released, Mikko Hyppönen of F-Secure traveled to Pakistan to interview Amjad for a documentary. Being inspired by this documentary and its popularity, a group of Pakistani bloggers interviewed Amjad, under the banner of Bloggerine.