How PC Security Hazards Exploded – and How to Secure Them

When mainframe computers lumbered in, revolutionizing how businesses and endeavors of all kinds operated, they were secured in rooms where everything from access to temperature and humidity were tightly controlled. It seems like eons ago, and, in fact, the way computers were treated in the beginning reminds us of the design of an ancient Egyptian temple, with the approach controlled and graduated through portal after portal.

Things changed. The advent of personal computing brought with it PC security issues that were so sudden and so vast that they can best be understood as an explosion. First, there were racks of servers, a proliferation of keyboards, and a control mechanism so original that the best name they could come up with was “mouse.” And then real personal computers became part of the lives of millions, at work and even at home.

In a matter of just a few years, a handful of brash entrepreneurs had persuaded the enormous “powers that be” that the future of computing lay not only in individual access, but in dispersed processing units – personal computers. The leadership of The Connectivity Center was around for that birth and the labor that preceded it, serving on the front lines of how human beings interact with computers through those vital evolutions. The unique perspective gained from that experience is behind the answers we offer today for PC security.

It’s very difficult to recall just how remarkable that shift to personal computing was, because the world around us today unfolded so rapidly from those decisions. However, as scholars remind us, the hardest thing about history is remembering that the people involved didn’t know how it was going to turn out. In this case, personal computing – and the PC security hazards that stemmed so suddenly from it – can be traced to a meeting in which the upstarts persuaded IBM that their mainframes would become obsolete – before they even had an operating system for the personal computer. “Brash” doesn’t begin to cover it. The people who made it happen have been called, “the pirates of Silicon Valley.”

The Hazards and How They Grew

Until computers became networks, viruses had no way to spread, and PC security wasn’t much of an issue. When they appeared, many of the earliest viruses were little more than sassy greeting cards. An unexpected and often unwelcome message and/or image would appear on a computer terminal. Perhaps the earliest serious PC security threats can be traced to the mid-to-late 1980s, when the Brain virus appeared and was the first IBM-PC compatible virus. Brain infected the boot sector of PCs running MS DOS, making them slower and sometimes leaving them unusable.

Malware – viruses that do more active damage – followed rather quickly. They seem to have begun as a means of hackers showing off their expertise and virtuosity. It amounted to a kind of public vandalism. Even if the damage was pointless, it showed off the abilities of the perpetrator. It appears outrageous and unreasonable, but the dawn of PC security hazards seems to have come more from ego than from a real objective.

In February 1992, the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) of Carnegie-Mellon University issued a virus warning advisory for Michelangelo, the first PC security threat to gain widespread fame. CERT was a month ahead of the game apparently, as the virus was named Michelangelo because it was designed to activate each year on March 6, the artist’s birthday. Michelangelo was also a boot-sector virus, but its damage included overwriting data, rendering memory unusable, and causing the data to be almost impossible to recover.

The impact of Michelangelo, however, had little to do with its practical effects. Ultimately, a few thousand computers were found to be infected, rather than the five million that were predicted – a significant proportion of the PC population in the early 1990s. The real impact came from its notoriety. Michelangelo put PC security hazards on the map, attracting massive media attention and widespread fears of havoc around the world. IBM sold out of its antivirus programs for a time, beginning a trend that now amounts to $170 billion a year spent on cybersecurity.

A curious twist of history that persists is that most of that cybersecurity spending remains devoted to online solutions, while the physical points of access to personal computers remain unguarded in most cases. Yes, it took so much expertise to devise worms and viruses and malware that the first motive was just to show off. But now that sinister interests and hostile forces use hacking for sabotage and espionage, the defenses that people are mobilizing still are devoted to that online exposure, leaving one whole, obvious sector of PC security unguarded.

Putting PC Security Just a Click Away

Protecting the physical data ports through which some of the most historic, impactful cyber-attacks were perpetrated, where sabotage is easy and casual contamination occurs somewhere every hour of every day – and also securing the connectors that turn PCs into information systems at work – is our mission at The Connectivity Center.

Our hundreds of PC security solutions include the Smart Keeper collection of computer and laptop security devices. They provide you with the PC security you need, without sacrificing the access that makes your system so vital to operations. Our Link Lock connectors and the Link Lock Hub serve not only as secure USB connections, but also lock your devices so that they cannot be removed without authorized access.

The Link Lock Hub is secured using a Smart Keeper USB Port Lock Professional in conjunction with a Smart Keeper USB Port Lock Key. The Professional Series key comprises an ergonomic, retractable housing with anti-static rubber grip, LED light for low visibility work areas, and dual-retractors – main and peripheral – for reaching port locks in confined spaces. The key patterns are strictly controlled, yet you can order duplicate keys to suit your own security authorization structure.

Our experience, quality, variety, value, and versatility are at your service, and these are just a few of the hundreds of ways The Connectivity Center offers real PC security protection for the vital flow of data on which your enterprise depends.

Let’s get acquainted and go to work.