A Brief History of Cybercrime: From Telegraph Hacks to Ransomware- as-a-Service


Over the  once decade, cybercrime has evolved into a thriving industry, generating  stunning  gains and adopting sophisticated tactics. Still, the roots of cybercrime can be traced back not just decades, but centuries. In this blog, we embark on a fascinating  trip through time to explore the history of cybercrime, from its humble  onsets in the 19th century to the present day.

The Birth of Cybercrime:

The first recorded cyber attack took place in France in 1834, long before the internet was indeed conceived. Attackers sneaked the French telegraph system to steal fiscal market information, marking the dawn of cybercrime. From there, cybercriminals have continually improved their tactics to exploit technological advancements for vicious gain.

The Mid-20th Century: Cybercriminals Embrace Technology:

It was not until the mid-20th century, with the arrival of the digital revolution, that cybercrime gained traction. Beforehand adopters of technology, cybercriminals utilized their head start and intelligence to mastermind innovative methods of extracting data and money from individualities and organizations. Notable attackers emerged, capturing the attention of civil investigators and fellow hackers likewise.

1962: Allen Scherr's MIT Cyber Attack:

In 1962, Allen Scherr executed a cyber attack on the MIT computer networks, stealing passwords from their punch card database. This incident marked a significant milestone in the evolution of cybercrime, signifying the beginning of its ultramodern history.

1971: The Creeper Virus:

Bob Thomas created the first computer virus, known as the Creeper Virus, as a research trial. This self- replicating program spread through the ARPANET network, furnishing a glimpse into the implicit damage that unborn viruses could cause.

1981: Ian Murphy's AT&T Hack:

Ian Murphy became the first person condemned of cybercrime after hacking into AT&T’s internal systems and causing chaos by changing the computers’ clocks. This event highlighted the disruptive power of cyber attacks.

1988: The Morris Worm:

Robert Morris unleashed the Morris Worm, the first major cyber attack on the internet. It infected computer systems at prestigious institutions, demonstrating the vulnerability of interconnected networks.

The 1990s: New Technology Brings New Crime:

As the internet connected people worldwide, cybercrime grew in strength during the 1990s. The lack of original trust and safety controls paved the way for hackers to exploit arising technologies. This decade witnessed escalating rates of cybercrime, with attackers finding fresh openings to manipulate data and gain unauthorized access.

Notable Cyber Crimes of the 1990s:

  • Data stream Cowboy and Kuji’s attacks on the Air Force’s Rome Laboratory.
  • Vladimir Levin’s attempted bank robbery by hacking into Citibank’s network.
  • Kevin Mitnick’s infiltration of large networks by manipulating people and insiders.
  • Max Butler’s hacking of U.S. government websites and posterior lengthy sentences.
  • The Melissa Virus caused wide damages of around$ 80 million.

The New Millennium: Cybercrime Ramps Up:

The first decade of the new millennium brought indeed more sophisticated cyber attacks, with advanced patient threat actors patronized by nation- states. Cybersecurity became a pressing concern, particularly for government agencies and large corporations.

Notable Cyber Crimes of the 2000s:

  • ” Mafiaboy’s” distributed denial of service( DDoS) attacks on major marketable websites.
  • Security breach compromising 1.4 million HSBC Bank MasterCard users.
  • Heartland Payment Systems breach compromising data of 134 million users.

An Explosion of Cyber Attacks in the 2010s:

The once decade witnessed an unknown explosion of cybercrime, transforming it into a profitable industry. Trillions of dollars were lost as bushwhackers developed increasingly sophisticated programs and employed ransomware- as-a-service models, targeting organizations of all sizes.

Notable Cyber Crimes of the 2010s:

  • Operation Aurora targeting technology companies and intellectual property theft.
  • Sony PlayStation Network breach compromising particular information of 77 million users.
  • WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks causing wide disruption.
  • Equifax data breach compromising particular information of 147 million people.

The Current Landscape: Challenges and the unborn:

As we enter the 2020s, cybercrime continues to evolve. bushwhackers exploit vulnerabilities in interconnected systems, compromising critical infrastructure and extorting organizations through ransomware attacks. Major incidents similar to the SolarWinds breach and the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack emphasize the ongoing threat posed by cybercriminals.

The future of cybercrime remains uncertain, but one thing is clear:

Cybersecurity professionals and law enforcement agencies must stay watchful and acclimatize to the ever- changing threat geography. Technological advancements, including machine learning and AI, are being employed by both defenders and bushwhackers, shaping the future of cyber warfare.


The history of cybercrime is a confirmation to human imagination and the nonstop evolution of criminal tactics in the digital age. From early telegraph hacks to the current era of ransomware- as-a-service, cybercriminals have shown remarkable adaptability and resilience. As we move forward, it’s crucial for individualities, organizations, and governments to prioritize cybersecurity, collaborate, and develop robust defense mechanisms to safeguard against the ever-present threat of cybercrime.

Don’t forget to check out our latest Blog – Sim Box Fraud

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