Morris worm turns 20: Look what it's done

First Internet attack spawned panic, public awareness and security research

"The focus of today's Internet attacks are profits, and there are no profits in taking down the Internet," Bellovin says. "The sophisticated bad guys are being much more careful about the way they attack systems."

Although it caused far less damage than follow-on attacks, the Morris worm is remembered for its impact on the computer science community.

"The Morris worm opened up computer security as a legitimate topic," Allman says. "Before that, there were a few people who worked on computer security and they were mostly cryptographers, but the concept of computer security as a field of study was legitimized a lot by that."

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