Norton turns 21

Antivirus product has been around for over two decades
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Norton Antivirus is celebrating its birthday having spent over two decades on the market since its launch in 1991.

Created in an time when the digital landscape was vastly different to the one we know today, Norton has protected its users from a number of theats over the years, including the Melissa Virus, the SoBig worm and Zeus.

“Norton has come a long way in the last 21 years and we are constantly updating our product range to meet the needs of the rapidly evolving cybercrime industry,” said Norton security expert, Andrew Ford.

“We now offer consumers a full spectrum of security products to protect all aspects of their life online, from PCs to tablets, to mobiles and smartphones. Norton provides far more than simply antivirus protection and now helps protect the stuff that matters.”

To commemorate the landmark, the folks at Norton came up with a timeline highlighting some of the greatest threats faced by internet users.

1991 – Norton AntiVirus was first launched for PC and compatible computers.

1999 – David L Smith created the Melissa virus, the first virus of its kind, which infected computers and resulted in an estimated £48 million in damage.

Extra info: The Melissa computer virus was based on a Microsoft Word macro and worked by tempting recipients into opening a document with an e-mail message that said: “Here is that document you asked for, don't show it to anybody else.” Once activated, the virus replicated itself and was sent out to the top 50 people in the recipient's e-mail address book. After a lengthy trial process, Smith lost his case and received a 20-month jail sentence. The court also fined Smith $5,000 and forbade him from accessing computer networks without court authorisation. The Melissa virus didn't cripple the Internet, but it was one of the first computer viruses to get the public's attention.

2001 – Code Red, Nimda, Klez and Anna Kournikova were all significant network/email worms that were created and brought underground fame to the authors behind them.

2003 – Jeffrey Lee Parson created the “SoBig” worm at the age of 18 years old. The SoBig worm was one of the fastest spreading viruses which caused an estimated £4.4bn of damage worldwide.

Extra info: SoBig was contracted by opening the attachment it carried that was labelled to make people think it is an innocent screensaver or configuration file. The virus tried to fool people into opening it by regularly changing its subject line and the name of the attachment.

2004 – Jeremy Jaynes was the first cybercriminal to be convicted of spamming and was sentenced to nine years in prison. Prosecutors claimed Mr Jaynes made around £15 million in sales from his spamming operation and his sentence was later overturned on a technicality relating to mass emailing.

2006 – Selling fake security software became a highly profitable business for cybercriminals with examples including Rogue AV/Trojan FakeAV.

2007 – Banking trojans such as Zeus (Zbot) and Storm Worm (Peacom) allow cybercriminals to rob banks without ever entering the building.

2009 – Consumers moved to social media and cybercriminals began to follow with malware that would leverage the connections created by social media, e.g Koobface.

2010 – This year, high profile attacks showed the true potential of malware to steal IP and cause harm in the real world, e.g Stuxnet and Aurora (Hydraq).

Extra info: The Stuxnet worm emerged in July 2010 when it struck Iran's Bushehr nuclear power facility along with other infrastructures including worldwide utilities. Although Stuxnet's damage wasn't long-lasting, it was well-refined and widespread against major organisations. Hydraq was almost forgotten in the wake of the Stuxnet activity, as its intentions were old fashioned in comparison, as what made it stand out was that it attempted to steal intellectual property from major corporations.

In addition, between 2005 and 2010, over 1,200 types of malware were detected on mobile devices. In recent months, the development of mobile malware has grown by 1400% and there are currently 130,000 different variants of mobile malware.

2012 – Mobile malware began to hit home with consumers facing threats to privacy on their smartphones. In addition, the much anticipated launch of Windows 8 took place in October and Norton’s latest 2013 product range stepped up to the mark, making Windows 8 faster and safer for consumers.

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