Today we look back in time to the 1940’s, tracing the evolution of cyber-crime to the 1970’s. Next week we will begin with the 1980’s and then run through to the present day. Join us for part one of our look into cyber security history and do feel free to leave your comments below.

A cyber security timeline

  • 1940’s -> A computer is born
  • 1950’s -> Telephones aid the development of hacking
  • 1960’s -> IBM adopts defensive measures
  • 1970’s -> Cyber security officially lands
  • 1980’s -> 2020 and beyond -> Join us next week!

The world’s first digital computer

1943 saw the creation of the Bell Labs Relay Interpolator. This machine was requested by the US Army to help them test the M-9 gun director, an analogue computer targeting device. Mathematician George Stibitz then introduced a relay-based calculator to Bell Labs for use on the project. The Relay Interpolator used 440 relays and was programmable by paper tape, which led to it then being used for additional applications after the war.

‘Phone phreaking’ in the 1950’s

Did you know that the development of hacking was as much assisted by the phone as it was the computer? The practice of ‘phone phreaking’ emerged towards the end of the 1950s. Essentially, early hackers learned how to make free phone calls by hijacking telecoms engineers’ protocols. They could also avoid paying long-distance tolls and ‘phone phreaking’ took place as recently as in the 1980’s. A community was then born in which newsletters were released. The recipients included Apple founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs!

Students discover frailties in IBM’s new computer

In 1967 IBM challenged students to probe their new computer. Effectively assuming the role of ethical hackers, the students explored the system then learnt the language and gained deeper access. IBM acknowledged this as a valuable exercise before then moving to develop defensive measures.

1972: The birth of cyber security

ARPANET, ‘The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network’, was a precursor to the internet. In 1972 a research project was launched which is typically seen as signalling the birth of cyber security as we know it. Researcher Bob Thomas designed a computer program, ‘Creeper’. This moved across ARPANET’s network and then left a breadcrumb trail in its wake. ‘Creeper’ was the first example of a computer virus and it was chased and then deleted by Ray Tomlinson’s program, ‘Reaper’. That’s right; the inventor of email also wrote the first antivirus software. It was also the first self-replicating program and therefore the first computer worm.

Join us next week for part 2!

That is all for ‘cyber security history’ part 1. Were you surprised that it dates back to a bygone era? Did the role played by telephones in the development of hacking impress you? As cyber security specialists, we like to take the time to study our field. It is important to learn from the past as it infuses the future and enables us to grow. Information security companies must constantly evolve to meet new challenges, using past successes – and even failures – to then ensure that their efforts are not wanting.

At CRIBB Cyber Security, we specialise in certifications, penetration testing and vulnerability scanning. Based in the UK, we are a critical part of theICEway ecosystem of companies. Our cybersecurity consultants have spent years honing their skills and continue to add new accreditations. In the war on cyber-crime, CRIBB takes a proactive stance and we encourage that you do the same. Contact us for a free cyber-risk consultation today!