Of all the different forms of malware, computer viruses rank as one of the most common. They are surpassed only by Trojans, in fact. Statistics show that roughly 64% of all malware infections on Windows computers involve trojans and 15% of all malware infections on Windows computers involve viruses. While there are many different types of computer viruses, however, the Creeper virus is among the most well-known.
#1) The First Computer Virus
Creeper was the world’s first computer virus. It emerged in the early 1970s. Like modern-day computer viruses, Creeper was able to replicate itself. All computer viruses are self-replicating; that’s essentially what distinguishes them from other forms of malware. Creeper was able to replicate its code while spreading it to other connected computers and devices.
#2) Didn’t Cause Harm
Computers infected by Creeper didn’t succumb to data loss or other malicious acts. Malware, by definition, is designed to cause harm. But Creeper was different in the sense that it was designed for testing purposes. Its developer, Bob Thomas, wanted to see if was possible to create a piece of self-replicating software. This prompted Thomas to develop Creeper, which spread from computer to computer without causing harm.
#3) Targeted the TENEX OS
While most modern-day viruses target Windows or Apple computers, Creeper targeted the TENEX operating system (OS). TENEX is an older, lesser-known OS. It was developed in 1969 by BBN. TENEX was commonly used by businesses back then, though it was later replaced with the TOPS-20 OS. Regardless, Creeper was designed specifically for the TENEX OS.
#4) Displayed a Message
It may not have caused harm to infected computers and devices, but Creeper still displayed a message. After spreading to a connected computer or device, Creeper would trigger a message revealing “I’m the Creeper, catch me if you can!“
#5) Raised Awareness for Cybersecurity
Creeper played an important role in raising awareness for cybersecurity. At the time, businesses weren’t too concerned about cybersecurity. There weren’t any viruses back then, and other forms of malware were few and far between as well. Creeper, though, revealed the need for cybersecurity. With its self-replicating properties, it could easily spread. Creeper itself wasn’t harmful, but it made businesses realize that malware could target them.
#6) Creeper vs Reaper
In addition to Creeper, there’s Reaper. Reaper wasn’t a type of virus or malware. Rather, it was a type of antivirus software. Reaper was designed specifically to stop Creeper. Many cybersecurity experts attribute Creeper to being the world’s first antivirus software. It was developed by Ray Thomlinson in 1972 with the goal of deleting the Creeper virus’s code from infected computers and devices.