Computer Security History

Instructor: Marcia Wert

Marcia has taught Information technology and Mathematics with a master's degree in IT

Discover how Computer Security came to be and its history. Can you imagine doing online shopping in a world that has no security? Our identities would be compromised! Updated: 08/09/2021

Computer Security has evolved over the years. Let's look at a general overview of the history of computer security, including measures that have been taken to both compromise and maintain security to our present day.

Background Information on Computer Security


In 1932, Germany during pre-World War II used an encoding device called the Enigma. It sent encrypted messages to their troops. It was unlike any other encryption used before. The English, with aid from mathematicians, Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rózycki, and Henryk Zygalski , were able to invent a primitive computer to crack and decipher the Enigma code. The importance of computer security can be highlighted in this one instance, since it was a contributing factor to the demise of Germany in the war.


In 1964, AT&T began to track what is called phone freaks or phreakers. It was a way to place phone calls for free by just using a particular note whistled into the earpiece. It confused the phone circuits, and they would not allow recording of the calling number. Hence, no bill was generated! A hacker called Captain Crunch was convicted of placing over 2000 free phone calls by confusing the network.

Apple Computers

In 1975, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak invented and released the first personal computer: the Apple I. Here is where computer security takes a giant leap. With the advent of personal computers came problems with hackers, people that want to steal personal information.

Data Encryption was born! Encryption is changing data so that it is harder to decipher. Think of encryption like sending a secret message in which only you and the receiver have the ability to read it.


Xerox's Jon Hepps and John Shock invented the first worm to infect personal computers in 1982. A worm is a computer program that continues to replicate itself among computers. Unlike a virus that needs to attach itself to a program and became known in 1983, it is a standalone program. The replication can continue until it forces a system inoperative. Many viruses and worms continue to be released even today!


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