In 1989 Eddie Willems became the worlds first known recipient of a ransomware attack.


In 1989 Eddy Willems was checking floppy discs to be distributed at a conference. The article covers what happened next as follows:

  • The discs contained medical research.
  • A few days later, his computer locked.
  • A message appeared demanding $189.00 be sent to an account in Panama, or he would lose all of his data.
  • Willems knew how to extract data from his computer without paying a ransom.
  • Some medical researchers lost a lot of work.
  • Willems said the consequences of this attack were severe.
  • The floppy discs had been sent to addresses obtained from a mailing list. Ransomware* attack traced to Joseph Popp, a research scientist.
  • Popp was arrested and charged with blackmail.

US Justice Department recently said 2020 was 'the worst year to date for ransomware attacks.'

* Ransomware is a type of malware program that infects, locks or takes control of a system and demands ransom to undo it.