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Today I learned the first PC virus was called "brain" and was written in DOS only 25 years ago in 1986. The creators of the virus even gave their address. How did it move from PC to PC? Floppy disks of course. (The first Apple virus was called Elk Cloner and written a few years earlier by a 15-year old boy.)

Brain is the industry standard name for a computer virus that was released in its first form in September 1986[1], and is considered to be the first computer virus for MS-DOS. It infects the boot sector of storage media formatted with the DOS File Allocation Table (FAT) file system...

Brain affects the IBM PC computer by replacing the boot sector of a floppy disk with a copy of the virus. The real boot sector is moved to another sector and marked as bad. Infected disks usually have five kilobytes of bad sectors. The disk label is changed to ©Brain, and the following text can be seen in infected boot sectors:

Welcome to the Dungeon (c) 1986 Brain & Amjads (pvt) Ltd VIRUS_SHOE RECORD V9.0 Dedicated to the dynamic memories of millions of viruses who are no longer with us today - Thanks GOODNESS!! BEWARE OF THE er..VIRUS : this program is catching program follows after these messages....$#@%$@!!

There are many minor and major variations to that version of the text. The virus slows down the floppy disk drive and makes seven kilobytes of memory unavailable to DOS. Brain was written by two brothers, Basit and Amjad Iqbal, who at the time lived in Chahmiran, near Lahore Railway Station, in Lahore, Pakistan. The brothers told TIME magazine they had written it to protect their medical software from piracy, and it was supposed to target copyright infringers only.[2] The cryptic message "Welcome to the Dungeon", a safeguard and reference to an early programming forum on Dungeon BBS, appeared after a year because the brothers licensed a beta version of the code...

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 Basit * Amjad (pvt) Ltd. BRAIN COMPUTER SERVICES 730 NIZAM BLOCK ALLAMA IQBAL TOWN LAHORE-PAKISTAN PHONE: 430791,443248,280530. Beware of this VIRUS.... Contact us for vaccination...

The reason for this message is that the program was originally used to track a heart monitoring program for the IBM PC, and pirates were distributing bad copies of the disks. This tracking program was supposed to stop and track illegal copies of the disk. Another programmer copied the technique for DOS and it became the Brain virus. Unfortunately, the program also sometimes used the last 5k on an apple floppy, making additional saves to the disk by other programs impossible. The company was sued for damages and was quickly dissolved.

Brain (computer virus)

What did you learn recently?


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Sep 13, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=641

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