I'm looking into the history of malware. When was malicious software fist called malware? I think that malicious software is called "computer virus".


3 Answers 3


According to dictionary.com this was first recorded in 1990-95; mal(icious) + -ware

Following chart from google Ngram may help too, (Ref)

google Ngram

  • 1
    As a complement, in the 80s we mainly found viruses. Then in the 90s, we encountered trojans and ads fetching softwares often included in games. Those were not really viruses, and anti-virus software could not remove them without also removing the game installed by the user, so the name malware was used for the whole set of malicious software. Apr 24, 2018 at 8:26
  • Thank you for the information, mahmudKabir. I learned dictionary.com and ngram.
    – drytt
    Apr 24, 2018 at 9:25

If you read through the wikipedia page on malware, you will learn that the computing security industry and security researcher adopt the evolved term in the beginning of the Internet boom. The financial incentive trigger a boom of innovative malicious software beyond "virus/worm" term.

You can do your own research on Virus bulletin website to check out the emerge of the term over time.

  • Thank you for the information, mootmoot. I learned Virus bulletin, and I‘ll check out this site.
    – drytt
    Apr 24, 2018 at 9:49

@Mohammad's answer gives the date when the word malware sprang into use.

I want to give a different perspective: In the beginning, there were only computer virusses and no other types of malware. Than worms, trojan horses and other types of evil software emerged on the scene, and a unifying covering term for all the different types was needed. Malware won the competition for this unifying term.


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