The First Internet Worm (Morris Worm) - Computerphile | Summary and Q&A

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October 30, 2020
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The First Internet Worm (Morris Worm) - Computerphile

TL;DR

In 1988, the Morris Internet Worm infected thousands of computers, leading to a paradigm shift in internet security measures.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did the Morris Internet Worm of 1988 affect the internet landscape?

The worm served as a wake-up call for the internet community, highlighting the need for improved security measures and leading to a shift in priorities towards securing the network against malicious attacks.

Q: What were the main methods used by the Morris Worm to spread and infect computers?

The worm exploited vulnerabilities in widely-used email and finger programs. It targeted the debug function in the sendmail program and buffer overflow in the finger program to gain unauthorized access to computers and propagate itself.

Q: Who was behind the Morris Internet Worm and how was he identified?

Robert Tappan Morris, a student at Cornell University, created the worm. His friend tipped off the New York Times about the worm's existence, leading to the discovery of Morris as the culprit.

Q: How did the internet community respond to the Morris Internet Worm?

Initially, there were debates about whether or not to hire Morris based on his technical skills. However, the incident sparked a greater emphasis on security in the internet community and led to stricter security measures and protocols.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The Morris Internet Worm of 1988 was a significant event in the history of the internet, marking a transition from an academic network to a more security-conscious environment.

  • Around 60,000 computers were infected by the worm, highlighting the vulnerabilities in popular email and finger programs.

  • The worm's creator, Robert Tappan Morris, was eventually convicted and faced community service and a fine.

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