Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Inside the Mind of a Virus Writer

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the getting-to-know dept.

Worms 231

sebFlyte writes "news.com.com is running a very interesting interview with 'Benny' (AKA Marek Strihavka), a former member of the famed 29A russian virus-writing group, about what drove the group among other things. He's now one of several ex-virus writers working for security companies."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373555)

First Post?!?!?

Re:FP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373569)

Nope, I got second!!!!!

Re:FP! (-1, Offtopic)

SbCl3 (734478) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373571)

WOW! I get second post!

Re:FP! (0, Offtopic)

Homology (639438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373613)

WOW! I get second post!

Translation : WOW! I'm a moron!

The black and the gold (-1, Offtopic)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373566)

Go Steelers!!

Re:The black and the gold (-1, Offtopic)

SGreth (828293) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373631)

That was about as off topic as they come....but yes: Go Steelers ;)

MOD PARENT DOWN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373668)

MOD PARENT DOWN:

J-E-T-S-JETS JETS JETS

LETS GO JETS BABY WOOOOOOO!!!!!

-------
# Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads.
# Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
# Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.
# Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)
# If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Re:The black and the gold (-1, Offtopic)

JFlex (763276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373689)

no no no no no you have it all wrong its more like... J! E! T! S! JETS JETS JETS!! Gonna be a GREAT game today fella's, may the best team win!

Re:The black and the gold (-1, Offtopic)

OffTheLip (636691) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373712)

Pittsburg is the one place I hope the 'bus' never stops! Go Steelers and see ya'll next weekend, same place.

Sloooowww (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373576)

Looks like the website is taking a beating - whats new? Here [google.com] is a mirror of their website. Please do the author a favor and try to use it.

PARENT IS LAST MEASURE!! DO NOT CLICK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373603)

That stinks... (3, Insightful)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373604)

Who else (besides virus writers) should code antivirus programs? Who else has the experience and technical skills for fighting viruses?

He's got a point there, but still, that stinks of "create a problem, then sell the solution".

Re:That stinks... (5, Interesting)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373627)

On the one hand, yes, but without any evidence that he is involved in spreading viruses (something he strongly denies) it's more likely as he says: marketing theatre.

It's like saying that banks shouldn't pay Frank Abignail millions of dollars to help them stop check fraud because he at one time stole millions of dollars the same way. When you get someone with that much inside perspective, the good they do can far outweigh their perceived shortcomings.

That stinks...Revolving Door. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373683)

"It's like saying that banks shouldn't pay Frank Abignail millions of dollars to help them stop check fraud because he at one time stole millions of dollars the same way. When you get someone with that much inside perspective, the good they do can far outweigh their perceived shortcomings."

Well that explains the revolving door between government, and the military/industrial complex.

Re:That stinks... (5, Insightful)

shatfield (199969) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373735)

It's not like that at all.

Frank Abignail did steal millions of dollars. He was a criminal. This kid didn't do anything of the sort -- he simply wrote programs that exposed insecurities in operating systems.

Sometimes those programs are called Viruses, sometimes spyware, sometimes worms.. etc. When you put them all in a pot and boil them down to their bare essentials, they all smell the same way -- programs that exploit insecurities in operating systems.

In the end, if he indeed did NOT spread the programs that he wrote, then they weren't viruses at all -- they were just programs that exposed the insecurities of operating systems.

I am of the mind that we absolutely need people like Benny -- someone MUST check the locks to ensure that we are indeed safe. If no-one is checking the locks, then we're just fooling ourselves that what we hold near and dear is safe.

That stinks...Anything Goes. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373776)

"Frank Abignail did steal millions of dollars. He was a criminal. This kid didn't do anything of the sort -- he simply wrote programs that exposed insecurities in operating systems."

And spam writers simply write spam that exposes weaknesses in baysian filters.

"I am of the mind that we absolutely need people like Benny -- someone MUST check the locks to ensure that we are indeed safe. If no-one is checking the locks, then we're just fooling ourselves that what we hold near and dear is safe."

I'll be over to check your locks. DON'T CALL THE POLICE!

Re:That stinks... (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373795)

I wouldn't entirely agree with you. A self-replicating program is a virus/worm/whatever regradless of whether it is given the chance to actually self-replicate.

As far as the analogy between Benny and Frank, I'll grant that it is pretty disparate, but it illustrates the logic between putting the fox in to guard the henhouse. As long as you have some reasonable sort of oversight, you have a fox telling you how other foxes will attempt to steal the hens. Your particular fox can only abuse his position for so long before getting the axe himself.

Re:That stinks... (1, Interesting)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373851)

This kid didn't do anything of the sort -- he simply wrote programs that exposed insecurities in operating systems.

Sometimes those programs are called Viruses, sometimes spyware, sometimes worms.. etc. When you put them all in a pot and boil them down to their bare essentials, they all smell the same way -- programs that exploit insecurities in operating systems.


Excuse me, dumbass. There are many BENIGN ways to bring a lot of attention to insecurities in operating systems, which result in them getting fixed without costing people and companies millions of dollars in damages. Such sites are referenced nearly every day on slashdot.

On the extreme other hand you have viruses and worms, which are programs written to cause as much trouble as possible for as many people as possible. Releasing them is is a criminal act, plain and simple.

I am of the mind that we absolutely need people like Benny -- someone MUST check the locks to ensure that we are indeed safe.

I would rather have a locksmith check my locks to make sure they're safe, rather than a burglar breaking down my door and stealing all my valuables. I can learn the same lesson much more cheaply with the former.

For fuck's sake!

Re:That stinks... (1)

shatfield (199969) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373928)

Wow, such angst. Calm down there, Nelly.

Besides, Benny is now employed as a locksmith. The argument was whether or not he deserved to be. I contend that he does.

Apparently you haven't engaged your brain enough to be able to form a real opinion either way.

Re:That stinks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11374028)

Wrong. He's employed as a anti-virus writer.

Re:That stinks... (2, Insightful)

mattyrobinson69 (751521) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373741)

Well in the case of Frank Abignail, why the hell would you put a bank robber in a bank vault?

Re:That stinks... (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373769)

So he can tell you how he'd break into it, of course.

Re:That stinks... (1)

Qacker (658930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373628)

I agree as its the old bait and switch going on there sparcy But what of the scriptkids doing it for free to piss off perople and that so them it fallls ong tthe tippr I am seeing that it will go tor thhe mrtog tihtjng tJEw does amd gothmntgkd HELLL JEWSGGGGLIJSLGIJSIErottttttreitidlgjf

Re:That stinks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373632)

Hmm... I don't think he does have a point. Just because you can write a virus doesn't mean you know how to prevent them. The techniques used to write viruses aren't the only techniques used to cactch them.

Stupid title (2, Informative)

JPriest (547211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373728)

The guy never distributed the viruses, he never even wrote code designed to self-replicate. He is just some guy with an interest in computer security and finding exploits and you are calling him "the virus writer". The man is not a criminal.

Re:Stupid title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373762)

Hey, don't you have some songs or movies to steal of the net or something? Stupid fucking "he just develops biowarfare viruses, he doesn't actually stick them in bombs and kill people with them" hippy. Take your fucking dirty hippy logic and stick it up your ass. You stupid fucking fuck. Fucking Christ, you're an asshole. You fucking asshole.

Re:Stupid title (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373932)

Take your fucking dirty hippy logic and stick it up your ass. You stupid fucking fuck. Fucking Christ, you're an asshole. You fucking asshole. Wow, do I know you [ungrounded.net] ?

Re:Stupid title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11374011)

OMG, YUO PWND ME. But you're still a dirty hippy who use twisted logic.

Re:Stupid title (1)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373799)

I wasn't calling him anything at all, myself - the "virus writer" part was just a quote (which I had hoped would be clear from the indenting and italicising), and, for that matter, a quote from that very guy himself. Maybe he is no virus writer if you really look at the facts (although I doubt it), but he's calling himself one, so don't beat *me* up over it. :)

Re:Stupid title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373863)

was not aimed specifically at you.

Re:That stinks... (1)

adeydas (837049) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373775)

And most probably your guess is correct...

Re:That stinks... (3, Funny)

Morosoph (693565) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373801)

Of course, you could write an operating system, and then sell security for it [slashdot.org] .

Re:That stinks... (1)

andreMA (643885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373949)

How about he work on solutions from a cell and get paid $0.50/hr instead of rewarded?

Well, it looks like we finally have step #2... (5, Funny)

errxn (108621) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373606)

1. Write viruses
2. Work for antivirus company selling solutions to the viruses that you write
3. Profit!

Re:Well, it looks like we finally have step #2... (1)

errxn (108621) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373630)

Or is it 'virii'? I'm sure the Grammar Nazis will clarify the situation shortly....

Re:Well, it looks like we finally have step #2... (2, Informative)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373675)

"Viruses" is the proper term for the pluralization of "virus" - "virii" isn't even a real word.

Re:Well, it looks like we finally have step #2... (1)

RonnyJ (651856) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373653)

It's possible that you've got steps 1 and 2 the wrong way around ;)

Viral Ideas. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373608)

"Inside the Mind of a Virus Writer"

Will I get infected reading the article?

Re:Viral Ideas. (3, Funny)

Motherfucking Shit (636021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11374029)

Will I get infected reading the article?
Only if you're running IE...

Let me summarize... (5, Insightful)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373615)


Q: How many viruses have you written?
A: A lot

Q: Why did you write them?
A: To learn and innovate, not to harm.

Q: Should virus writers like you work for AV companies?
A: Yes, of course. We know security the best.

Why is this an "interesting interview"? There is little to no content here. It's the same crap we've heard every virus writer say to every person who interviews them. While I agree that the best security people are probably the ones who used to break the system (aka virus writers and crackers) why does this need to be considered interesting news? I was more interested in the (FALSE) story about the fish from the tsunami.

Re:Let me summarize... (1)

djplurvert (737910) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373640)

It's not interesting, in fact, slashdot has been one big turd of a read over the last few weeks.

Who can suggest something better? I'm looking for more sci/tech, less tripe.

An Alternative (1)

Morosoph (693565) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373753)

Technocrat [technocrat.net] is quite good.

Re:Let me summarize... (1)

dabeats (840040) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373641)

Isn't the whole point of hacking to rack in the cash? Why would you hack for innovation? What kind of crazy world is this?

Re:Let me summarize... (1)

Homology (639438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373669)

While I agree that the best security people are probably the ones who used to break the system (aka virus writers and crackers) why does this need to be considered interesting news?

Why? It takes different kind of skills to keep a system up and running nice and secure that to crack it. As an anology : Someone very good at blowing up buildings is probably not that good at actually build one. Sure, a good demolisher need good knowledge about construction, but it's not the same. Really.

Re:Let me summarize... (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373789)

Interview with Microsoft:

Q: How many bugs did you write?
A: A lot

Q: Why did you write them?
A: To make money and innovate, not to harm.

Re:Let me summarize... (2, Insightful)

Geno Z Heinlein (659438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373832)

Why is this an "interesting interview"? There is little to no content here.

I think it's the /. equivalent of a Rolling Stone "Top 50 Albums of All Time" list. They put the Beach Boys ahead of Jimi Hendrix so people will buy the issue just to show people how stupid the editors at Rolling Stone are.

Stupid all the way to the bank. Ick.

Truth? (4, Insightful)

PhreakinPenguin (454482) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373625)

It amazed me the way some people think. It sounds to me like he thinks he should be free to write virii because it's expression and protected under the first amendment? So by that analogy, someone who burns down a building shouoldn't be prosecuted because they are just expresssing themselves. Come on, him saying that he didn't distribute his "code" is complete crap. He wrote it and it got distributed. Anyone who thinks differently can buy some swampland from me at a steep price.

Re:Truth? (1)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373710)

It amazed me the way some people think. It sounds to me like he thinks he should be free to write virii because it's expression and protected under the first amendment? So by that analogy, someone who burns down a building shouoldn't be prosecuted because they are just expresssing themselves. Come on, him saying that he didn't distribute his "code" is complete crap. He wrote it and it got distributed. Anyone who thinks differently can buy some swampland from me at a steep price.

What I find interesting is that the entire time I was reading the interview, it reminded me of the 'its legitimate to steal software/music' zealots who think any action they take with a computer can be justified as a $DIETY given right.

Re:Truth? (1)

karniv0re (746499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373786)

What I find interesting is that the entire time I was reading the interview, it reminded me of the 'its legitimate to steal software/music' zealots who think any action they take with a computer can be justified as a $DIETY given right.

Nonono. Don't confuse the pirates with the people who actually care about freedom. Yes, stealing software/music/movies is illegal. That is a fact. Go look it up. (I won't go into the debate of "just because it's illegal doesn't make it unethical"). The fact that there is plenty of legitimate uses for p2p has been evident for a long time. Granted, a lot of people don't always do legal things with it, but a lot of people don't always do legal things with a car, and they're still legal.

No, not any action taken with a compter is a right, and this is made clear by laws. But, to the best of my knowledge, distributing code is still legal (correct me if I'm wrong). I hope for all of us that it stays that way.

Re:Truth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373811)

You may want to be a lot more specific when you say things like "distributing code is still legal".

Re:Truth? (1)

karniv0re (746499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373743)

The difference would obviously be what you do with the virus. Keep it on your own systems and play with it? That is absolutely acceptable. Release it to the general public *in source form* also should be acceptable. It's sharing of source code. Nothing wrong with that. If you disallow writing a program that could do something damaging or illegal, then we'd better lock up p2p programs as well (not like they aren't trying). I'm not advocating releasing the binary form in the wild. That is where the problems start. It's one thing to point out security holes in the way that Secunia [secunia.com] and others do with proof of concepts, but it's another to release a virus in the wild that actually does illegal things. Make sense?

Re:Truth? (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373802)

> it's expression and protected under the first amendment?

Given that he lives in Brno, I really doubt that he has even once considered his first amendment rights. Perhaps you meant to say "protected under Article 17 of Division Two of the second chapter of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms?"

Naah... too wordy. "First Amendment" it is!

Re:Truth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373805)

He could not care less about the first amendment. He is not a US citizen or even resident. But his answers do seem to be tailored for the US audience. Guess it is not his first interview.

He used to live in a very different environment from most of slashdot readers, at least before the Chech republic joined the EU.

Re:Truth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373818)

Did you miss the part about him being Czech? I didn't know they had the First Amendment over there.

Re:Truth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373820)

Of course it's ok to write viruses! It's very interesting and it's an art. And I see no reason why sourcecode to viruses shouldn't be freely exchanged. What's illegal is infecting foreign computers with it.

Parent's a troll (1)

BrainP1L07 (811630) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373829)

Writing source code and burning down a building the same? Yeah, and the WTC fell because of some GPL flight simulator activists?
Following your analogy, i believe idiocy is just a special kind of intelligence.

Re:Truth? (4, Insightful)

Morganth (137341) | more than 9 years ago | (#11374007)

"So by that analogy, someone who burns down a building shouoldn't be prosecuted because they are just expresssing themselves. Come on, him saying that he didn't distribute his "code" is complete crap. He wrote it and it got distributed."

Nice try, but that doesn't follow. The virus writer isn't like the guy who burns down the building; he's more like the guy who came up with the formula for the molotoff cocktail your guy used to burn down the building. Coming up with the formula is a creative act, and one that is protected enough so that one has the right to actually publish the formula anywhere. One can (or at least, should) be able to publish the design for other molotoff cocktails, or bombs, or guns, or swords, or whatever harmful thing you want.

However, the second someone takes that formula and puts together the ingredients (*ahem, compiles the source code*) and throws it at the building (*ahem, distributes the executable*), then we have our criminal.

Re: First Amendment (2, Informative)

gordonb (720772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11374018)

Last time I checked, the First Amendment was in the US Constitution.

Article 17 of the Czech Republic's Constitution ("Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms") states, in Section 4, "The freedom of expression and the right to seek and disseminate information may be limited by law in the case of measures essential in a democratic society for protecting the rights and freedoms of others, the security of the State, public security, public health, and morality." So here, limitations on these rights are more specifically spelled out. I'm not sure, but I would argue that writing virus code and releasing such code certainly is not protected "expression," at least as defined here. Such expression clearly may interfere with the rights of others and public security. Mr. Strihavka may not be as free as he thinks, and he's certainly not protected by the First Amendment.

In the US, First Amendment protections are not all they're cracked up to be, in any case. These rights are clearly spelled out in the US Constitution, but, in practice, that only means that they can be asserted and litigated. Thus, you have the presumption of such freedom, until some corporation or government entity wishes to deny or abridge your rights, armed with better lawyers. Unless, you're rich and can afford press coverage and good attorneys, you can be screwed by a simple letter.

Perhaps... (1)

Richie1984 (841487) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373642)

While I can understand 'Benny's' intentions with regard to wanting to innovate, and to help to create a more secure PC, many other virus writers seem to just want to cause mayhem, or to get credit. Therefore, I think it makes a great deal of sense for AntiVirus firms to employ people who've had a great deal of experience with the issue, like Benny. Only by employing similar minded people, can we help to prevent new and devastating new virii from appearing.

Re:Perhaps... (1)

EllynGeek (824747) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373691)

I'm going to improve homeowners' security by throwing rocks through their windows. Yeah, he claimed he didn't distribute the virii he wrote. That's what friends are for.

An interesting little quote (2, Interesting)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373657)

I foud this tidbit a bit interesting...

Some antivirus firms say that I have no moral right to do it, but...almost all ex-members and current members of 29A are employed in the antivirus and information technology security industry.

Does this strike anybody else as a "wolf guarding the henhouse" scenario?

Re:An interesting little quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373730)

And of course the AV Software they work for is closed source . . .

I think at that point any closed source product (e.g. binary only) not to be trusted. Everytime I have to use a windows machine e.g. when I'm traveling and entering an internet caffee I don't know if it makes sense I ssh to my servers, as a keylogger or a nifty (trusted?!) AV software runs in the background ... you end up not trusting ANY windows box, and so any windows box becomes unuseable for any half-way security conscious being ...

Re:An interesting little quote (1)

FrYGuY101 (770432) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373834)

More like a "Henhouse guard importing wolves to get employment" scenario.

Virus writing textbooks? (1)

cpghost (719344) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373665)

There are very vew (good!) books about writing viruses. One of them is "The Shellcoder Handbook" by Koziol et. al.

Any other suggestions?

Re:Virus writing textbooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373699)

"i wanna b l33t and write viruses, d00d!" by cpghost.

He was a security tester before, so what's wrong?? (1)

solafide (845228) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373666)

He states that it was a intelllectual pursuit to release viri that attack inpervious systems. It's not good, but its not criminal to reform and go protect against your friends work. However, consequences follow, so being arrested is a logical result.

Viri-writing on his resume is a problem. But to antivirus software companies, a former virus writer should be a asset, since they have firsthand experience on how the viruses work.

He was a security tester before, so what's wrong?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373724)

Make that a logical result of virus writing:-)

awww, just an innocent little geek (0, Flamebait)

EllynGeek (824747) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373672)

What a well-rehearsed spiel. Thank you CNet for contributing to the spread of pure 100% grade-A manure. I'm sure I'm not the only who can think of a of at least a million other ways to find challenges in "logical and abstract thinking." What a liar. He's a vandal and a thug, and anyone who hires this amoral twit deserves whatever he does to them.

Re:awww, just an innocent little geek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373679)

Cheer up. He'll pirate Zoner Anti-Virus for us. Hooray! Probably can get us the source code too, which means we can port it to Linux.

Re:awww, just an innocent little geek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373747)

my comments exactly!

A little too cynical (1)

Morosoph (693565) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373970)

More likely, he's got Asperger's Syndrome. If you don't think in terms of colliding interpersonal interests, you'll simply see it as an abstract challenge. It's more interesting than many challenges, since you're pitting yourself against others. Think of it as a game of chess.

To witness similar "amoral thinking", read this interview [wired.com] of Bram Cohen.

If you have a very pure abstract mind, all challenges are equal. "Thinking through the moral implications" is only relevant if you have ill intent. If you don't, you'll naturally pick the first sufficiently interesting challenge that comes along.

What a great excuse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11374030)

But I'm not buying that people with Asperger's are morally bankrupt, or that this particular criminal has Asperger's. And how amazing that the first "challenge" he stumbled over was virus writing, and his first real friends were a group called 666. Wow, what are the odds.

LOL, "we're not a gang" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373692)

Any group with a name like 666 is bent on doing bad things. That guy is full of shit. "Oh, it was all about the security." Fuck that. He is just a dirty russian dog and he should be locked up.

Re:LOL, "we're not a gang" (1)

sjw02001 (820841) | more than 9 years ago | (#11374037)

First of all, RTFA. The group is Russian, but this guy was Czech. If you look at a map and the politics of the two countries, there's quite a large difference. Secondly, consider the history of Eastern Europe - dissidents who fought the communist system are still celebrated today. If you cast yourself as a dissident with a distinct, non-harmful goal, people like that.

It depends (3, Insightful)

Matt2k (688738) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373696)

There is something to be said for learning techniques for mitigation through hands-on practice. For example, I routinely attempt to crack my own web servers in an attempt to discover potential weaknesses. You can read white papers on XSS and privledge escalation and proper filesystem permissions all day, but you don't really ever learn the application until you try it for yourself.

If I were to hire another administrator to be in charge for securing my systems, I would want them to have that same internal drive and desire to explore the system, rather than having a checklist-mentality. Go down the list and assume the server is secure.

That said, I would _not_ hire someone who was actively involved in breaking into other people's systems. It's the mindset. They did it once, they can't do it appreciably any better than if they had probed their own systems, and they're likely to do it again. Part of being a professional means a mature respect for other people's beings.

So if this guy actually wrote viruses that were released, I would consider him probably a bad canidate. Otherwise, yeah, go for it. Good choice.

Exploit (1)

go$$amer (218906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373744)

By his logic, I could demonstrate how easily say, my splitting maul could compromise, say, his skull. Wouldn't I be doing him a favor?

Then I could exclaim, "see you aren't ready for this! you can be exploited."

I'm always amazed at bright coders that cannot wield simple logic in meat-space...

Re:Exploit (1)

Ithika (703697) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373833)

Yeah, it's amazing isn't it. Like yourself, not being able to use "simple logic in meat-space". Your example only works if you were to do it on your own skull. Think!

GMail Invite (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373754)

Re:GMail Invite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373843)

Thanks. You can now email me at i.wasted.your.invite@gmail.com [mailto]

What's the problem? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373759)

I can understand the problem with virus writers that spread their creations, but this guys wasn't part of a group that did?
Or am I missing something here...

However, from the Cnet guy's questions, it certainly seemed like he had written his questions in advance while thinking he was a dirty hacker trying supporting "cyberterrorism".

Re:What's the problem? (2, Insightful)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373814)

He states that he publised his viruses. This is just as bad as actively releasing the thing.

Or maybe they're all just too stupid to think that some script kiddie will come along, compile and release the thing. Writing malicious code to see if something works is one thing, writing it and releasing/publishing it is another. One can help you understand the workings of another piece of software, the other makes a big mess of the internet and there's no excuse for it.

Passionate Young Writer Pens Great American Virus (2, Funny)

tenzig_112 (213387) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373760)

An excerpt from
somesuch thing [ridiculopathy.com] about a passionate young code mangler:


Earnest in his desire to create a believable, honest, and confident email worm, Vallor spent the better part of a year researching the lives of Spanish explorers, history of potted meat, and geography of coastal Maine. After thoroughly outlining the project and writing a few initial lines, he suddenly lost his muse and shelved the project until his nerve returned. He then sequestered himself in his tiny apartment for more than a month, writing draft after draft until his viral manuscript was ready for compilation and distribution.


Like all good, passionate writing, Gokar is largely autobiographical. Vallor used various characters, the registry key for instance, from his real life:


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurre ntVersionRun] "Karen" = "karen.exe"

How to get a security job these days... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373779)

1. Write a devastating virus/worm
2. ???
3. Job offers will come knocking

Circular Logic (3, Interesting)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373781)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the whole idea that a virus writer assists in securing computers just a bunch of crap? I mean, please, let's drop the facade for a minute, and think this through:

01: A virus writer releases a virus or worm,
02: A virus writer gets accused of damaging millions of computers
03: A virus writer says he did it to bring attention to X bug that could be potentially used to write a virus or worm for
04: GOTO 01

I realize that some companies are stubborn and have persued legal action against people who publish bugs in software, so a virus or worm can sometimes be the only effective way to bring public attention to a problem. However, this usually is in turned converted to bad press for the writer, and just backfires. The way I see it, this is a better argument than others for switching to OSS - no morbid fear that publishing a bug will result in a lawsuit (no matter how unfound half the time), and thus any virus/worm exploits on an open platform can be considered generally malicious, and the writer persued fully.

Sounds like a business plan (1)

digitalgimpus (468277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373785)

Create a virus

Then sell the cure

Wasn't that a movie? :-D

That's one heck of an unethical business plan. That violates so many ethics principles it's amazing.

unethic business plan? (1)

BrainP1L07 (811630) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373888)

What about selling an OS full of holes, then selling the software to cure infections?
If you can get to sell the malwares themselves, you've got the perfect business plan.

Personally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373792)

I'd chop his hands off then give him a frontal lobotomy - ' I only wrote them, honest...'

In Czech (1)

max909 (619312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373807)

In Czech only OLD People write viruses :)

Re:In Czech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11374008)

Sheeeeeesh!!!

The country is called "Czechia" or "Czech Republic". "Czech" alone is an adjective as in "Czech Beer" (which is pretty good, btw).

At least get the name right if you make bad jokes. :/

Russian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373823)

The guy isn't Russian. He's Czech!

Turning point (2, Interesting)

Gary Destruction (683101) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373825)

The article doesn't mention what the turning point in his life was. I think that would fill in a big gap.

I'm disappointed (2, Funny)

anticypher (48312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373856)

I just RTFA, and there wasn't one mention of bone saws, power drills, or plastic explosives. How else would one get into the mind of a virus writer?

The only acceptable process for getting into the mind of a virus writer should be both irreversable and serve as a warning to others.

the AC

Personal choice (2, Insightful)

Kipsaysso (828105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373873)

When you get down to it, who you employ is up to you. If you think that your customers would be best served by a former virus writer, then do it. If you think they are too dangerous then don't. It comes down to your economic choice.

Close ties between virus and anti-virus industry (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373979)

I've always suspected close ties between the virus industry and the multibillion dollar anti-virus industry. Now we know they're real.

Most viruses are designed to be friendly to the anti-virus industry.

  • They rarely do anything really destructive. "Propagate for 15 days, then erase hard drive" viruses are very rare.
  • They seldom do something that an anti-virus program can't undo. Think about that for a moment. Most viruses are uninstallable without having to reload applications or the operating system. That can't be entirely by accident.
  • They almost never attack the users data in subtle ways. We don't seem to see viruses that, say, make small changes to numbers in spreadsheets.
  • They don't even remove anti-virus programs much, which would seem to be an obvious feature.

There's always been an implicit synergy between the virus and anti-virus companies. They need each other. But now we know there's more than that.

Interview with another member of 29A (Ratter) (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11373995)

This article at InformIT.com [informit.com] is another interview with a 29A member (Ratter). Much of the same content and statements.

Inside the mind... (2, Funny)

hikerhat (678157) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373996)

Looks pretty darn empty in there.

Riddle me this (0, Redundant)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 9 years ago | (#11373999)

If ex-virus writers are employed in writing anti-virus software, how should the consumer of anti-virus software know that the guy writing his software isn't the same guy writing his viruses?

I don't want to be in his mind (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 9 years ago | (#11374017)

The only part of me I want inside a virus author is my boot in his ass.

While hiring these guys might help in the short term, long term it does nothing to discourage other authors. If they manage to avoid jail, they've got a big payday coming. To me, that's exactly the wrong message to send.

If viruses, worms, spyware, and spam disappeared tomorrow, I would probably be unemployed. And you know what, I'd be okay with that, because it'd mean that my customers don't need me to fix the problems these guys cause. There's lots of other things I could be doing.

"who else" indeed. (3, Insightful)

bani (467531) | more than 9 years ago | (#11374032)

"Who else (besides virus writers) should code antivirus programs? Who else has the experience and technical skills for fighting viruses?"

just because you can blow up a bridge doesn't mean you should be trusted to build one.

it takes a completely different skillset to defend against viruses than it does to write them.

doctors don't have to know how to create a disease in order to know how to cure it. i would trust a doctor to treat disease far more than a bioweapons engineer.

just like i don't trust a burglar to guard a bank vault, i don't trust a virus writer to write antivirus software.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?