The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'viruses'


An economic-rationalist arguments for why writing computer viruses should be punishable by death; it basically comes down to society getting more economic benefits from executing worm writers than from killing murderers. It reminds me a bit of the argument in K.W. Jeter's Noir about why copyright violation had to become punishable by death, and worse. (via Techdirt)

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Two researchers at Berkeley have created a virus which fights AIDS. This virus is a modified version of HIV with the harmful parts replaced by a mechanism that inhibits HIV's ability to kill immune cells. The anti-AIDS virus is sexually transmissible, much as HIV is, which means that now it is hypothetically possible to screw a sick person healthy. (They may have to get rid of this if they ever market it, as not to lose revenue; otherwise they could sell multi-user site-licenses to sexually promiscuous patients, or put a celibacy clause in their licenses and prosecute violators under copyright laws.)

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This just in: virus writers' people skills often leave a lot to be desired:

And in perhaps the most blatant case of ego among virus writers, the virus writer Michael Buen from the Philippines put a copy of his CV in his virus. When the virus became active on a PC, it would automatically print out the CV which contained his real name, job history and contact details and threatening to unleash further viruses unless he was given a job.

Presumably they did enough fact-checking to determine that the virus was written by Mr. Buen, and wasn't a joe-job by someone who disliked him for whatever reason.

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Another reason to avoid Microsoft operating systems: if your Windows PC gets infected with malware and you're unlucky, you may lose your job, your relationships, or even be convicted as a paedophile, on the strength of pornographic images downloaded into your cache, as happened to one man in the US (or so he claims).

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The Observer speaks to computer virus writers. According to this article, most of them are European teenagers, and the guys-without-girlfriends stereotype isn't strictly accurate; more to the point, most of them (if they are to be believed) write viruses just for the technical challenge and don't actually release them. (Though they do show them off, and consequently script kiddies and miscellaneous impulsive psychopaths do end up releasing them.)

The people who release the viruses are often anonymous mischief-makers, or 'script kiddies'. That's a derisive term for aspiring young hackers, usually teenagers or students, who don't yet have the skill to program computers but like to pretend they do. They download the viruses, claim to have written them themselves and then set them free in an attempt to assume the role of a fearsome digital menace. Script kiddies often have only a dim idea of how the code works and little concern for how a digital plague can rage out of control. Our modern virus epidemic is thus born of a symbiotic relationship between the people smart enough to write a virus and the people dumb enough - or malicious enough - to spread it.

In related news: German magazine c't apparently has evidence that virus writers are selling 0wned machines to spammers. In this case, "virus writers" probably means "hoodlums who hang around virus writers' forums".

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Another resourceful criminal use of the countless thousands of virussed Windows machines on the internet: online protection rackets, where the "businessmen" (predominantly from Eastern Europe) target a high-profile website and threaten to knock them offline with a massive DDOS attack unless they pay up. Online casinos (which make a lot of money and are in poorly-policed areas) are a popular target.

Most of the computers used are broadband-connected home Windows PCs owned by clueless people, of whom there is, sadly, no shortage; and it doesn't look like the problem is going to go away, at least not until a totalitarian "trusted computing" regime is imposed on the internet at the IP level, or something equally drastic happens. Which makes me wonder whether or not Microsoft are deliberately allowing viruses to flourish on their OS as to drive people into the highly profitable embrace of Big Brother.

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FBI arrests Windows virus author. 18-year-old high school student Jeffrey Lee "teekid" Parson, accused of authoring/modifying the Blaster virus/worm, has been described as popular and likeable a loner with few friends.

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Anti-virus consultancy Sophos Plc has released a profile of virus writers: they are male, obsessed with computers, 14-34, and chronically lacking a girlfriend. (via Techdirt)

(It also looks like another instance of the assumption that anyone who isn't usually in a sexual relationship is some sort of sociopathic freak. Soon not having a girlfriend will be probable cause for search and seizure. Hey, the 9/11 hijackers didn't have girlfriends either.)

(And shouldn't that be "chronically lacking a girlfriend or an interest in comic books/record collecting/trainspotting"?)

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An interesting article looking at the potential of UNIX shell script viruses. Shell scripts run on many architectures, and (along with C compilers) can be used to custom-build exploits and rootkits for the specific platform; while no such virus has been wildly successful yet, the potential is there.

(Of course, there's an easy way to defang many of them: remove the C compiler from your servers/front-line machines, which would make building exploits rather impossible. A malicious script could still download precompiled exploits from a website; though if you run your servers on something weird, it may not be able to find one; if crackers had to precompile exploits, they would probably go mostly after the 95% of machines which run Red Hat Linux on a x86 or something equally common.)

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Rabid Penguinheads post a Windows email virus which prints a pro-Linux message. Or is it an anti-Linux black-op by Darth Bill's forces? (via Slashdot, of course)

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