November 1, 2018

Purdue professor led Worm research that began cybersecurity work

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University Professor Eugene Spafford is known for his work almost 30 years ago in defeating one of the first major malware programs released onto the internet.

On Nov. 2, 1988, the “Internet Worm” was released. It spread across the internet, slowing (and sometimes crashing) machines and prompting headlines worldwide.

Spafford, a computer science professor, is widely known for his analysis of this incident and for his leadership in defeating it.   

The Worm release changed the way government, business and academia viewed what is now known as cybersecurity. Spafford was at the forefront of many of those changes, including starting and leading the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) at Purdue.

CERIAS has been one of the leading academic groups in this field for more than 20 years.

The Worm program exposed flaws and deficiencies in the way cybersecurity was commonly practiced. In the 30 years since then, many of these flaws have been repaired, yet a number of them are still a problem.

Spafford’s work aligns with Purdue’s Giant Leaps celebration, acknowledging the university’s global advancements made in health, space, artificial intelligence and sustainability as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. Those are the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues. 

Writer: Brian Huchel, 765-494-2084,

Source: Eugene Spafford, 765-494-7825,

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