Internet “Morris Worm” Becomes First to Garner Public Attention


On Nov. 2, 1988, a software worm written by Robert Morris infected an estimated 6,000 of 60,000 computers connected to the internet, shutting it down for several days and highlighting the vulnerability of computers to attack.

Morris said he created the worm — known was The Great Worm or the Morris Worm — to determine the size of the internet, but it became a denial of service attack by spreading across  government and private computers, rendering them useless until cleaned over a period of days. Morris, a graduate student at Cornell University, launched his worm from the Massachussets Institute of Technology.

Morris becomes the first person prosecuted under US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and his attack prompts the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — which created the Internet — to fund a new federally funded research and development center, the Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., to study computer security and better respond to future  emergencies.

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