*nix Malware Evolution

By | April 24, 2006

Computing history and computer virology did not begin with Windows. Nor did they begin with DOS. The first computer virus, a worm which appeared in 1988, was written for Unix. However, computer virology only really started to evolve with the appearance of millions of machines running under DOS, and then under Windows.

Malware evolution reflects the evolution of the computer industry as a whole: the popularity of a platform can be gauged by the number of viruses found in the wild which target the specific platform.

The leading platform is, of course, intel + Win32 (Win32 as a software platform, intel as a hardware platform). More specifically, 32 bit intel is currently the most widely targeted platform. However, the situation is likely to change in the near future as 64 bit platforms become more widely used. Indeed, several proof of concept viruses for Win64 have already been created.

However, where there’s a mainstream, there’s always an alternative. At one point in time, the main alternative to Windows was OS/2. Today, the alternatives are Linux, FreeBSD and other flavours of Unix. Linux, with its wide variety of implementations, is the undoubted leader. Slowly but surely Linux is being chosen over Windows not only for servers, but also for desktops. MacOS X’s start may also rise; since Apple has switched to intel processors, Macintosh is rapidly gaining popularity.Read Full Story

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