The Bizarre True Story of Where Ransomware Started

This story gets reported again and again every few years, but never with any real depth.

Nobody knows why a “Harvard-taught evolutionary biologist named Joseph Popp” invented ransomware.

Somehow he could afford to send 20,000 floppy discs “in the mail to people including targeted attendees of the World Health Organization’s AIDS conference in Stockholm”.

Not a small bill in 1989.

And reportedly 20,000 was just the first shipment as he had plans for sending even more.

But maybe, just maybe, there’s a big (Harvard-taught) clue:

…he advocated that the marriage age be lowered and young women focus their lives on birthing children…

That suggests he was power hungry, a predator with intent to victimize and control others. Was there a state involved? Was he leveraged by some political group, especially in terms of AIDS research?

Here’s what news looked like in 1990, which is what I mean by a lack of any real depth to the reporting (such as where Popp’s funding came from).

Source: InfoWorld, February 12, 1990

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