The Morris Worm – 25 Years later.

It seems like every day, the news is full of security exploits, for example, The critical Microsoft Windows and Office vulnerability, the Google Crawler issue, and now Internet Explorer users have issues as well. Viruses, malware, security issues, they are everywhere.

This week, I would like to pause and look back to November 2, 1988. Many of you reading this weren’t even born yet. WOW, now I really feel my age! It was the end of “tech innocense” as it were. On that date, a Cornell University student named Robert Tappan Morris released what is considered the first internet worm, (which ultimately lead to the first conviction in the US under the 1986 Computer Fraud And Abuse Act). The worm contained just 99 lines of code brought most of the internet to a screeching halt.

Mr. Eugene “Spaf” Spafford, a true heavyweight in the security industry, was one of the first to examine the Morris Worm code and published a whitepaper analysis, which is now famous.

According to Mr. Morris, the intent of his worm wasn’t to cause actual damage, but simply to gauge the size of the Internet, however, there was a tiny flaw in his creation.

A worm is normally designed to spread from one system to another, working through as many different systems as possible. A miscalculation in the “spreading mechanism” built into the worm, meant that the worm could come back at the same computer, thereby a computer could be infected multiple times, with each additional process slowing the machine down, eventually to the point of being unusable.


For you tech history buffs, back in 1988, the worm could only infect Digital Equipment Corporation (DECVAX machines running 4BSD, and Sun-3 systems. That’s turning back the clock for you!

As for Robert, after appeals he was sentenced to three years probation, 400 hours of community service, and a fine of $10,000.

Seven years later, in 1995, Mr. Morris and two other colleagues went on to found ViaWeb, which later became YahooStore!

The internet is chock full of traps and nasty surprises waiting for us if we aren’t aware, informed, and armed. Viruses, worms, trojans, malware, spyware, phishing, social engineering, and more.

It’s my passion to continue to write about vulnerabilities, so you can understand what the dangers are, and take measures to protect your system, and your information.

Don’t forget to come by and visit me sometime at


Jacques Redmond

About Jacques Redmond

I'm an I.T. Security Professional, Technology Analyst, Consultant, & Tech Writer Protecting You From Viruses, Malware, Trojans, Hackers, and other Cyber Threats. I enjoy taking complicated subjects, and putting them in a way that's easy for everyone to understand. My site INFORMATIONWARFARE.US gives free advice to combat threats to your system.