Thursday, October 30, 2008

Morris Worm Turns 20: Look What It's Done

Carolyn Duffy Marsan writes on NetworkWorld:

The Internet will mark an infamous anniversary on Sunday, when the Morris worm turns 20.

Considered the first major attack on the 'Net, the Morris worm served as a wake-up call to the Internet engineering community about the risk of software bugs, and it set the stage for network security to become a valid area of research and development.

"It was a really big deal," says Eric Allman, a computer programmer who in 1981 authored sendmail, open source Internet e-mail software, while he was a student at the University of California at Berkeley. Today, Allman serves as chief science officer at Sendmail, a company that sells commercial-grade versions of the software.

"The biggest implication of the Morris worm was that the Internet was very small … and it was considered a friendly place, a clubhouse," Allman says. "This [attack] made it clear that there were some people in that clubhouse who didn't have the best interests of the world in mind … This made it clear we had to think about security."

Despite the high-profile nature of the worm, some experts say its importance was not fully appreciated at the time.

More here.


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