The History of Cybersecurity: Evolution Through the Years
In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine a world without cybersecurity. Over the last 80 or so odd years (yes you read that right), cybersecurity history has evolved at a much higher speed than almost any other industry.
We thought it would be fun to take a little trip down memory lane, and take a closer look at how the cybersecurity industry has evolved over the years. While cybersecurity became most prevalent in the 70’s and onward, reflecting on the 40’s-60’s will set the stage for the cybersecurity boom in decades to come.
Cybersecurity History Timeline:
1940’s: The first digital computer was created in 1943, and access to these computers during that time was limited to only a handful of people. That being said, threats were nearly non-existent.
1950’s: Although computer threats were still non-existent, ‘phone phreaking’ began to emerge in the late 50’s. These phone ‘freaks’ were people who specialized in the engineering of phones. Their extensive knowledge base probed them to hijack protocols. Essentially, they found a way to make calls free, vs. avoiding long distance tolls. Phone companies didn’t know how to stop it — but luckily, this trend fizzled out.
1960’s: Computers during this time still weren’t publicly accessible. Even for programmers, these were expensive and intangible, and were often locked away into temperature controlled rooms. However, for those who did have access, some would get carried away. But more so in a curious way, not a malicious way. They genuinely wanted to see systems could improve by making them quick and efficient. The more they got to understand the coding and system language, the more parts of the system they could access. This is how the practice of “ethical hacking” came to be, and still exists today.
1970’s: This is when cybersecurity became most prevalent, as the terms antivirus software, worms, entry points, and vulnerabilities came out. The Reaper became the first self-replicating program, or worm. As telephones began creating remote networks, new entry points were presented that needed protecting. As people started becoming more reliant on computers and networks became larger, governments began noticing the essential need for security.
1980’s: As the technology itself began evolving at a rapid rate, so did the savvy minds of computer programmers. These users began monitoring file sizes, and noticed an increase in size was the first sign of potential infection. This is why free operating memory is still a sign of attack to this day. Commercial antivirus software became increasingly popular, although it started becoming clear that it could only respond to existing attacks.
1990’s: As computers were now becoming widespread among the public, threats became a public issue, rather than just a government issue. Code began to mutate while using the same algorithm, and cyber criminal activity became more widespread than ever. Email in particular really opened the floodgates to new data points of entry.
2000’s: With more devices than ever in offices and homes, cyber criminals had more area to cover than ever before. And instant messaging certainly did not help! The ability to hack without downloading became an issue. To help combat these issues, more antivirus software and operating system security began to increase. Although this posed a challenge, as it often slowed the devices down. Headed into the 2010’s, the mission was to have antivirus software fully integrated into devices without it feeling like a ‘burden.’
2010’s: As we mentioned, technology began to outsmart us, and took on a life of its own. As humans become smarter and more knowledgeable, so does the technology. With this extensive information, people started using this to their advantage in a malicious way, known as black hat hacking. The black market didn’t help in this era either. Cyber attacks became more prevalent, and today, we are seeing the highest recorded cyber attack rates we’ve ever seen. However, it’s not all negative news! Cybersecurity professionals have created immaculate security measures that hold an immense amount of value for government agencies and individuals.
And there you have it! This timeline is only scratching the surface of the cybersecurity evolution, and we encourage you to dig into it deeper. It’s fascinating how quickly technology can evolve so rapidly!
For more cybersecurity best practices and educational content, keep checking back to the blog.