The Internet’s 40th anniversary timeline of milestones

September 2nd, 2009

The Associated Press and Symantec have each compiled timelines to mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Internet. The compilation below begins with LastWatchdog’s description of the current threat landscape. Combined and supplementing the timelines reveal how a military grade experiment, designed with an open architecture that preserves s anonymity, evolved into a global force, embraced with equal fervor by corporations, braggarts and criminals.

Summer of 2009: Bad URLs swamp the Internet. Through the first half of 2009, IBM’s X-Force team tracks a 508% leap in the number of new malicious Web links versus the first half of 2008. Most bad links function as relays to other Web pages set up to quickly embed a wormhole (referred to as a Trojan downloader) to the hard drive of the visitor’s thief-crop200pxPC. The attacker then uses this wormhole to install code that groups the PC with thousands of other infected machines in a botnet. The attacker is then able to lease out the botnet to other criminals who need computing power to deliver spam, steal data, spread promos for fake antivirus subscriptions and hijack online banking accounts. Bad links are moot, of course, if no one clicks on them. So the Internet has become swamped with ploys to steer people to bad links. They turn up in search query results and in e-mail spam. And bad links are surging through messages and postings on popular social networks. Source: LastWatchdog

2009: The Koobface worm steals logons and contact lists from users of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Friendster, Bebo and Hi5.  It delivers bad links in messages and microblogs that appear to come from trusted acquaintances.  Source: LastWatchdog

2009: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer becomes the first major daily newspaper to move entirely online. Google announces development of a free computer operating system designed for a user experience that primarily takes place on the Web. Source: AP

2009: Twitter emerges as the fastest growing site on the Internet with 6 million unique monthly visitors and 55 million monthly visits — getting 1,400 percent larger every month. Source: LastWatchdog.

2009: Conficker RPC-DCOM worm. The Conficker worm has created a secure, worldwide infrastructure for conficker_img-150x1502cybercrime. The worm allows its creators to remotely install software on infected machines. What will that software do? We don’t know. Most likely the worm will be used to create a botnet that will be rented out to criminals who want to send SPAM, steal IDs and direct users to online scams and phishing sites. Source: Symantec

2008: Cyber thieves crack database of Heatland Payment Systems and steal 130 million payment card transaction records over 13 months before getting detected. Source: LastWatchdog

2008: World Internet population surpasses 1.5 billion. China’s Internet population reaches 250 million, surpassing the United States as the world’s largest. Netscape’s developers pull the plug on the pioneer browser, though an offshoot, Firefox, remains strong. Major airlines intensify deployment of Internet service on flights. Source: AP

bill-gates200px2007: Storm email virus. Poor Microsoft, always the popular target. Like Blaster and others before, this worm’s payload performed a denial-of-service attack on www.microsoft.com. During Symantec’s tests an infected machine was observed sending a burst of almost 1,800 emails in a five-minute period. Source: Symantec

2007: Apple releases iPhone, introducing millions more to wireless Internet access. Source: AP

2006: Cyber thieves breach TJX retail chain database to steal 94 million credit and debit card transaction records over an eight month period.  Source: LastWatchdog

2006: World Internet population surpasses 1 billion. Source: AP

2005: Launch of YouTube video-sharing site. Source: AP

2004: Mark Zuckerberg starts Facebook as a sophomore at Harvard University. Source: AP

2004: Sasser LSASS worm. This nasty worm spread by exploiting a vulnerable network port, meaning that it could sven_jaschan-copyspread without user intervention. Sasser wreaked havoc on everything from The British Coast Guard to Delta Airlines, which had to cancel some flights after its computers became infected. Source: Symantec

2003: MSBlast RPC-DCOM worm. Blaster is a worm that triggered a payload that launched a denial of service attack against windowsupdate.com, which included the message, “billy gates why do you make this possible? Stop making money and fix your software!!” Source: Symantec

2003: Slammer SQL server worm. This fast-moving worm managed to temporarily bring much of the Internet to its knees in January of 2003. The threat was so aggressive that it was mistaken by some countries to be an organized attack against them. Source: Symantec

2002: World Internet population surpasses 500 million. Source: AP

codered2001: Code Red ISS worm. Websites affected by the Code Red worm were defaced by the phrase “Hacked By Chinese!” At its peak, the number of infected hosts reached 359,000. Source: Symantec

2001: Nimda email virus. A mass-mailing worm that uses multiple methods to spread itself, within 22 minutes, Nimda became the Internet’s most widespread worm. The name of the virus came from the reversed spelling of “admin.” Source: Symantec

2000: The dot-com boom of the 1990s becomes a bust as technology companies slide. Amazon.com, eBay and other sites are crippled in one of the first widespread uses of the denial-of-service attack, which floods a site with so much bogus traffic that legitimate users cannot visit. Source: AP

onel_deguzman12000: I Love You email virus. Who wouldn’t open an e-mail with “I Love You” in the subject line? Well, that was the problem. By May 2000, 50 million infections of this worm had been reported. The Pentagon, the CIA, and the British Parliament all had to shut down their e-mail systems in order to purge the threat. Source: Symantec

2000: Mafiaboy installs bots on computers at Yale and Harvard universities and used them to crash CNN’s Web site for four hours and create chaos at the Web sites of Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, Dell, Excite, and E-Trade. He bragged in chat rooms that the FBI would never catch him. Source: LastWatchdog

jeff_bezos-copy1999: First Harry Potter book is published; Ricky Martin has hit single, In Vida Loca; Amazon loses millions selling books on line, but investors shower it with funds, and its stock prices soars from $6 per share to $106, giving founder Jeff Bezos plenty to laugh about. Source: LastWatchdog

1999: Melissa email virus. Melissa was an exotic dancer and David L. Smith was obsessed with her and also with writing viruses. The virus he named after Melissa and released to the world on March 26th, 1999, kicked off a period of high-profile threats that rocked the Internet between 1999 and 2005. Source: Symantec

1999: Napster popularizes music file-sharing and spawns successors that have permanently changed the recording industry. World Internet population surpasses 250 million. Source: AP

1998: Google forms out of a project that began in Stanford dorm rooms. U.S. government delegates oversight of google_logo250pxdomain name policies to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. Justice Department and 20 states sue Microsoft, accusing the maker of the ubiquitous Windows operating system of abusing its market power to thwart competition from Netscape and others. Source: AP

1996: Passage of U.S. law curbing pornography online. Although key provisions are later struck down as unconstitutional, one that remains protects online services from liability for their users’ conduct, allowing information – and misinformation – to thrive. Source: AP

1995: Amazon.com opens its virtual doors. Source: AP

marc-andressen200px1994:Marc Andreessen and others on the Mosaic team form a company to develop the first commercial Web browser, Netscape, piquing the interest of Microsoft and other developers who would tap the Web’s commerce potential. Two immigration lawyers introduce the world to spam, advertising their green card lottery services. Source: AP

1993: Andreessen and colleagues at University of Illinois create Mosaic, the first Web browser to combine graphics and text on a single page, opening the Web to the world with software that is easy to use. Source: AP

1990: Tim Berners-Lee creates the World Wide Web while developing ways to control computers remotely at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Source: AP

1989: Quantum Computer Services, now AOL, introduces America Online service for Macintosh and Apple II computers, beginning an expansion that would connect nearly 27 million Americans online by 2002. Source: AP

1988: One of the first Internet worms, Morris, cripples thousands of computers. Source: AP

1988: Morris worm. An oldie but a goodie; without Morris the current threat “superstars” wouldn’t exist. The Morris worm (or Internet worm) was created with innocent intentions. Robert Morris claims that he wrote the worm in an effort to gauge the size of the Internet. Unfortunately, the worm contained an error that caused it to infect computers multiple times, creating a denial of service. Source: Symantec

1983: Domain name system is proposed. Creation of suffixes such as “.com,” “.gov” and “.edu” comes a year later. Source: AP

vint-cerf1974: Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn develop communications technique called TCP, allowing multiple networks to understand one another, creating a true Internet. Concept later splits into TCP/IP before formal adoption on Jan. 1, 1983. Source: AP

1973: Arpanet gets first international nodes, in England and Norway. Source: AP

1972: Ray Tomlinson brings e-mail to the network, choosing “at” symbol as way to specify e-mail addresses belonging to other systems. Source: AP

1970: Arpanet gets first East Coast node, at Bolt, Beranek and Newman in Cambridge, Mass. Source: AP

1969: On Sept. 2, two computers at University of California, Los Angeles, exchange meaningless data in first test of arpanet_crop250pxArpanet, an experimental military network. The first connection between two sites – UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. – takes place on Oct. 29, though the network crashes after the first two letters of the word “logon.” UC Santa Barbara and University of Utah later join. Source: AP