Internet Security

5 Sites to Learn the History of Malware

Justin Pot 16-02-2016

Have you ever wondered what computer viruses looked like before the Internet, and how they spread? Do you wish you could get a hands-on look at some of the most notorious malware in history? Keep reading.


Today’s Cool Websites and Apps, where MakeUseOf points out five sites we’ve yet to mention, has a few sites that let you experience malware from the pre-Internet age. There are also a few sites outlining the most notorious malware of history, and another that might give you a few extra minutes off work. Let’s get started.

Malware Museum: Experience Glorious 90s Malware in Your Browser, Risk Free

Ever wonder what malware looked like in the DOS era? Now you have a chance, thanks to this collection of infections hosted by the Internet Archive. That’s right: the same site that lets you play classic DOS games in your browser for free Emulate Classic DOS Games Right In Your Browser For Free Play retro DOS games in a couple of clicks, thanks to The Internet Archive. Read More has a collection of malware you can check out right in your browser. Everything is emulated in DOSBox, and cannot infect your system, so browse with confidence.


You’ll notice the malware is whimsical, sometimes featuring some great pixel art and generally trying to amuse. It sounds innocent today, but in the early days of mass computing a virus was more likely to be a self-propagating prank than much of an actual problem. This museum stands as a testament to that simpler time, before ransomware scams Avoid Falling Victim To These Three Ransomware Scams Several prominent ransomware scams are in circulation at the moment; let's go over three of the most devastating, so you can recognise them. Read More and other cash-grabbing malware came to dominate our understanding of the word “malware”.

Computer Virus Catalog: An Illustrated Guide to History’s Greatest Infections

Would you like to learn about the worst computer viruses of all time A Brief History Of The 5 Worst Computer Viruses Of All Time The word "virus" and its association with computers was affixed by American computer scientist Frederick Cohen who used it to describe "a program that can 'infect' other programs by modifying them to include a possibly... Read More ? This site offers a quick summary of several, along with elaborate illustrations from a wide variety of artists.



You can quickly browse the viruses with the arrow keys. It’s a quick read, but the art alone is well worth the cost of admission. I recommend taking your time and enjoying this one. Maybe head back to the Malware Museum and try a few of these viruses out after reading about them.

History of Malware: A Timeline of Threats, from the 70s On

Continue your dive into the history of computer viruses A History Of Computer Viruses & The Worst Ones of Today Read More with this timeline, which starts in the 1970s and works towards today. You’ll see screenshots of a bunch of malware from history.


There’s also a timeline you can drag to see all the malware in historical context. Things didn’t really get cooking until the 1980s, when floppies started moving from computer to computer. The Internet, of course, accelerated things considerably.


The Zoo: Archive of Old Viruses You Can Explore at Your Own Risk

I’m going to say upfront that you should only look at this site if you know what you’re doing. You’ve been warned.

The Zoo is a collection of actual malware files, offered on Github. Why would anyone actively collect malware, you ask? Education. “Malware DB’s purpose is to allow the study of malware,” the project’s About page says. You can download the entire archive, or browse the project on Github.


This is hardly a complete archive of every virus ever, but there are more than a few heavy hitters on offer. There’s Cryptolocker CryptoLocker Is Dead: Here's How You Can Get Your Files Back! Read More , for example, and more than a few root kits. If you want to learn how malware works, this is a good opportunity to see it in action. Running any of this malware on your computer is a terrible idea, however, so it’s recommended that you only run these in a virtual machine What Is a Virtual Machine? Everything You Need to Know Virtual machines allow you to run other operating systems on your current computer. Here's what you should know about them. Read More that doesn’t have Internet access. Maybe you could build your own virus aquarium.

Once again: this is not safe. These are real malware. You’ve been warned.

Happy Hour Virus: Convince Your Boss You Can’t Work Anymore Today

I’ll admit it: this site won’t teach you anything about malware, but it’s still fun. Sometimes a malware infection or computer crash is the perfect excuse to leave work early, and Happy Hour Virus celebrates that. This site lets you quickly simulate a computer crash.


Just click any of these three options and a full screen error will show up on your display, making it clear to everyone around you that your computer isn’t working. Don’t worry, though: you can get back to your desktop by hitting Escape. This might not fool the most tech-savvy boss, but it should be fine for a neophyte. Enjoy your extra half hour off.

How Do You Learn About Malware?

We’ve talked about where to find computer virus news and alerts, and how to see if your Mac has a virus 3 Signs Your Mac Is Infected With a Virus (And How to Check) If your Mac is acting weird, it could be infected with a virus. How can you check for a virus on your Mac? We'll show you. Read More , but there’s always more to learn.

Which is why I’m wondering: how do you learn about malware? Do you ever dig through the history of the humble computer virus, and if so which resources do you like? Let’s compile more knowledge in the comments below.

Related topics: Computer Security, Cool Web Apps, Malware.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Anonymous
    February 16, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Some Months Ago, I Configured My AV To Warn Me And Block Any Programs Before Even Starting From My Download And Temp Folders.

    If I Can Not Install Software, I Have To Unblock That Feature And, Afterwards, Block It Again.

    Absolutely No Freaking MalWare Problems Since.


    • Justin Pot
      February 16, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      I think you have some malware though, because something weird is happening with your typing.

      • Anonymous
        February 17, 2016 at 3:30 pm

        Come On, I Told You Long Ago That This Is The Output Of A CHROME Extension.


        • Justin Pot
          February 17, 2016 at 4:38 pm

          I'm just messing with you. I could be friendlier, but every time I read one of your comments it messes with me. My Brain Emphasizes Each Word, And It Gets Stuck There Until I Start Chewing My Arm. So I think we're even.

        • Anonymous
          February 19, 2016 at 12:45 am

          Fair Enough, But You Could Show A Little More Leniency For The Only Person That Replied To Your Article - Until Someone Else Replies To It Too, That Is.