Fred Cohen

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Frederick B. Cohen
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
University of Pittsburgh
Carnegie-Mellon University
Known forComputer virus research
Scientific career
FieldsComputer virology

Frederick B. Cohen (born 1956) is an American computer scientist and best known as the inventor of computer virus defense techniques.[1] He gave the definition of "computer virus".[2] Cohen is best known for his pioneering work on computer viruses, the invention of high integrity operating system mechanisms now in widespread use, and automation of protection management functions.

In 1983, while a student at the University of Southern California's School of Engineering (currently the Viterbi School of Engineering), he wrote a program for a parasitic application that seized control of computer operations, one of the first computer viruses, in Leonard Adleman’s class. He wrote a short program, as an experiment, that could "infect" computers, make copies of itself, and spread from one machine to another. It was hidden inside a larger, legitimate program, which was loaded into a computer on a floppy disk.

One of the few solid theoretical results in the study of computer viruses is Cohen's 1987 demonstration that there is no algorithm that can perfectly detect all possible viruses.[3]

Cohen also believed there are positive viruses and he had created one called the compression virus which spreading would infect all executable files on a computer, not to destroy, but to make them smaller.[4]

During the past 10 years of his research work, Fred Cohen wrote over 60 professional publications and 11 books.[5]

For the past 35 years, Fred Cohen has been building companies and supporting risk management and strategic decision making for enterprises of all sizes and sorts. He is globally recognized as an innovative expert in management, particularly related to information technology and risk. He supports strategic enterprise-wide decision-making ranging from restructuring to litigation support. His team approach involves an in-depth study of key issues and the development of unique strategies and solutions. Results are often leveraged behind the scenes to support research and advisory firms like Gartner and Burton, government initiatives like standards development and capacity building, University education and training programs on five continents, and global cooperative research and development programs. He also leads and participates in government and privately sponsored academic research, teaches, and supports graduate courses and advanced professional seminars, and is a Federal-court qualified expert witness, and digital forensic evidence examiner.

He also is deeply involved with the advancement of start-ups via his participation in Angel to Exit, an organization that provides free and for-equity services to early-stage startups wishing to move toward angel funding.



  1. ^ A short biography
  2. ^
  3. ^ An Undetectable Computer Virus (academic paper)
  4. ^ Burger, Ralph, 1991. Computer Viruses and Data Protection, pp. 19-20
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2014-01-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)