The first computer virus (term suggested by Len Adleman) was designed and tested by Fred Cohen in 1983 at the University of Southern California. On November 3, 1983, the virus was conceived as an experiment to be presented at a weekly seminar on system security.

After eight hours of work on a VAX 11/750 system the virus written in C was ready for demonstration. Permission was granted to perform the experiment, and it was on November 10, 1983 that the virus was first demonstrated. In five trials the time needed to gain 100% penetration of the computer averaged less than thirty minutes.

Cohen was so successful that the administrators refused to let him continue the experiments because of their concerns about security. When it was reported that the virus would quickly grant an attacker root access, further tests were banned.

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