World’s First PC Virus “Brain” Turned 25

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Worlds First PC Virus Brain turned 25 in this January. Researchers from F-Secure managed to get an interview with Brain’s creators Basit and Amjad Farooq Alvi from Lahore Pakistan. The short but interesting interview is available here.

From Wikipedia 

©Brain affects the IBM PC computer by replacing the boot sector of a floppy disk with a copy of the virus. The real boot sector is moved to another sector and marked as bad. Infected disks usually have five kilobytes of bad sectors. The disk label is changed to ©Brain, and the following text can be seen in infected boot sectors:

Welcome to the Dungeon © 1986 Brain & Amjads (pvt) Ltd VIRUS_SHOE RECORD V9.0 Dedicated to the dynamic memories of millions of viruses who are no longer with us today - Thanks GOODNESS!! BEWARE OF THE er..VIRUS : this program is catching program follows after these messages....$#@%[email protected]!!

The virus came complete with the brothers’ address and three phone numbers, and a message that told the user that their machine was infected and for inoculation the user should call them:

Welcome to the Dungeon © 1986 Basit * Amjad (pvt) Ltd. BRAIN COMPUTER SERVICES 730 NIZAM BLOCK ALLAMA IQBAL TOWN LAHORE-PAKISTAN PHONE: 430791,443248,280530. Beware of this VIRUS.... Contact us for vaccination...

The reason for this message was the program was originally used to track a heart monitoring program for the IBM PC, and pirates were distributing bad copies of the disks. This tracking program was supposed to stop and track illegal copies of the disk. Another programmer copied the technique for DOS and it became the (c) Brain virus. Unfortunately the program also sometimes used the last 5k on an apple floppy, making additional saves to the disk by other programs impossible. The company was sued for damages and was quickly dissolved.

 Few interesting points from the interview,

  • Unlike present day viruses, Brain was not intended to cause any damage to the users, it is merely meant to be a “friendly virus”
  • It is a boot sector virus, which is named after the company Brain Telecommunications Ltd owned by the brothers
  • It left the address and phone number of its creators in the boot sector of affected floppies 

For more information about Brain and its writers please read the  Techlahore article.

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