SINCE the creation of the internet in 1969, there has been a rapid and progressive development of malware. The advent of artificial intelligence has transformed these threats, and they are becoming increasingly sophisticated and effective. Grace Hooper, the mother of modern programming, was born on Dec. 9, 1906. The same day was chosen in her honor to commemorate International Computer Science Day, or what we now term International Informatics Day. On December 9, not only do we commemorate the great advances in computer science but also the necessary development of cybersecurity. This week, we mark the day with a historical review of IT and cybersecurity milestones: from the birth of the internet to the rise of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity has been adapting to new IT requirements and applying new technologies to always counter cyberattacks. Beginnings of cybersecurity Cybersecurity was born when the first computers were able to network and transfer information from one to another. This did not happen until the 1950s, when the first computer networks and modems were developed, and it was not until the 1960’s that cybersecurity began to take the form it is known for today. The creation of the internet came in 1969, when the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was able to send a message from the University of California to the Stanford Research Center. This milestone marked the birth of cyberspace, and with it, the foundations of cybersecurity would also begin to be laid. 1990: The advent of malware In 1971, researcher Bob Thomas developed the first virus called Creeper. This malware moved through the Arpanet (as this first network would be called) and sent a message to infected devices saying: “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can.” In response, Ray Tomlinson, the creator of email, developed a program called Reaper that tried to track down and eliminate the creepers. The idea of cybersecurity would begin at this time, and the program developed by Ray Tomlinson would be considered the first antivirus. The 1980s saw a boom in malware, and they multiplied exponentially. At the time, they were mostly annoying because they emitted chain messages, but there was still no desire to make money from such practices. In response, in 1987, John McAfee founded McAfee and launched VirusScan software, and so antivirus started to exist commercially. The real Y2K: Loveletter The new millennium began with the fear generated by the Y2K problem: that the computer systems were faulty because the dates in the programs omitted the centurion. They feared that with the change of the millennium, all the dates would be wrong, and this would lead to failures and serious damage in all countries. There were indeed serious losses and misconfigurations at the turn of the millennium, but what this situation really told us was that society was becoming dependent on technology. At the time, there was no awareness of the real damage that could be done through the network. This was to change with the notorious Loveletter phishing virus, also known as “I love you,” which would spread in just five hours across computers in Asia, Europe and America. This virus generated economic damage valued at 10 billion euros. It was the inaugural first case of phishing: users received an email with the subject “I love you,” and attached to it was a file “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs”. When opened, the virus would run on the computer automatically and grab all the email addresses in the inbox to continue spreading, and make all files on the PC malicious. Numerous government groups were also affected by this virus, raising awareness of the importance of cybersecurity. 2010: WannaCry to Forget In the early 2000s, ransomware attacks began to emerge in an increasingly sophisticated form. It was in 2017 that the cyberattack known as WannaCry occurred: a state-sponsored attack that spread internationally. WannaCry did not make a huge difference in terms of profitability, as the ransom was only $300, but it did mark the beginning of the political use of ransomware. Today, it is a major risk because of the increasingly sophisticated methods it employs and the resulting damage and severe economic losses it entails. The future of AI is here (2020 onwards) The last few years have seen the increase in the sophistication of cyberattacks and ransomware attacks, with new means of attack vectors growing, from supply chain attacks to AI. Unfortunately, industry experts all predict the inevitable rise of cyberattacks and new means of phishing around the world, with our interconnected businesses and society. Artificial intelligence is marking a turning point in the evolution of cyberattacks, as this type of technology allows threats to be more frequent, faster, and more effective. Techniques such as deepfake are managing to reliably impersonate relevant identities and companies to steal information; phishing attacks are becoming more convincing, and new variants of ransomware and malware are developing rapidly and more cost-effectively. As cybercriminals’ techniques progress rapidly, cybersecurity is also using AI to refine its defensive methods to keep pace. It is shocking to see the speed at which we have developed the entire cyber complex: from the creation of the internet to the spread of increasingly complex malware and the consequent development of cybersecurity. But even more impressive is the thought of what is to come. Artificial intelligence has opened a new door in the technological era and is generating serious threats, but also sophisticated protection methods and technical breakthroughs. We are only seeing the beginning of major shifts in the technological and global paradigm. The list was provided by leading global cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., as the tech company celebrates its 30th anniversary.