40hex8:(40HEX-8.010):30/07/1992 << Back To 40hex8

40Hex Number 8 Volume 2 Issue 4 File 010 Letters to the editor! Well, as you can imagine when I got this message I was quite startled. Sorry Paul, no top billing this time :-). Although it is at this point, that I would like to say a couple things. For instance, the virus community seems to think that their actions go unnoticed. As you might imagine, this is not quite true. C'mon, security people get their hands on 40Hex shortly after our boards get it. Just letting you know that big brother is watching :). ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 40-Hex Response: As a Security Analyst I find 40-Hex an incredibly interesting magazine. The magazine presents entirely different viewpoints then what is in the industry magazines such as Virus Bulletin, Virus News International and Virus News and Reviews. Although all three of these publications are good and very useful to me in my job, 40-Hex does indeed keep my mind open. It discusses viruses in depth, including commented source code, and has been a real learning tool for me. There is just not anywhere that you can get the detailed analysis of a virus except in a magazine like 40-Hex. I can't help but be torn between my thirst for knowledge about virii and how they work, and the fear that the more knowledge about virus writing becomes available to the public, the greater chance that there is going to be more and more garbage out there and more and more irresponsible people releasing this garbage on their "friends and neighbors". I do want to thank 40-Hex for what I consider a very favorable review. I had to laugh about the comments, because frankly I agreed with them. I guess that I do get a little melodramatic sometimes. But I do honestly believe that the knowledge exists out there to create a program/virus that will be able to escape detection by any method in use today. Whether it will ever be written and whether it will have destructive capabilities I don't really know. I don't know of any virus writers that make profits off their work. While all the anti-virus developers, although they complain about the work that they have to do to keep up with the virus writers, certainly make a nice profit on something like a Michelangelo scare. So the only motivation for the virus writer is the challenge of creating a nearly undetectable virus. I am very curious myself to see if the NCSA's prediction of 40,000 virii by 1994 comes true. I certainly agree with 40-Hex that most of these virii will be hacks of some of the existing code out there now. The anti-virus industry itself can't decide on how to count different strains of viruses, so anyone will be able to make whatever claim they want anyway. Finally, Dr. Solomon said it best informally at the First International Virus Prevention Conference. He was talking about how America was founded on freedom and the rights of the individual. He said that Americans seem far too willing, in his opinion, to voluntarily give up those rights. Right now, virus writing is not illegal. And hopefully it never will be, because what you or I do with our own personal computers is no one else's business but our own. But when we interfer with someone else's computer or data or life, that I believe that is where the line is drawn. Its going to be a very long and hard process to determine responsibility for damages caused by a virus. Passing a law to make virus writing itself illegal will not solve the problem. Something, though, has to be done to protect an individual's or a corporation's rights to have a virus-free working environment. There are enough problems with buggy commercial software, without having to worry about virii hitting your computers too. But until that time comes part of my job will continue to be warning people about the dangers of viruses and helping them protect their data. Paul Melka Response to a Response to a Response: As the head of the -=PHALCON/SKISM=-, I find your letter a very interesting response. I thank you for your raving reviews on 40Hex. We try to make it a magazine that everyone can learn from. Well, I still debate the undetectable virus issue. Regarding the virus writer/anti-virus issue, I definately agree, that the anti-virus people are motivated by greed more then anything else. I am glad to see that you agreed with my oh so witty comments, they weren't meant to be abusive, just a little comic relief. I agree with you on the issues regarding a virus-free working environment. But, as you already know, writing a virus isn't illegal, it is the spreading that is illegal. Unfortunately, it is too late to start working on anti-virus writing legislation now. The damage has been done. The virus issue is fairly similiar to the AIDS issue. You have to use protection, no matter what. There will never be an end to virii. Even if everyone stopped writing virii, the infection rate wouldn't decrease. I don't know of many people that get hit by the newer strains that have been coming out. Most people still get hit by Jerusalem, Stoned, and other 'classics'. I would be very interested in what solutions you may have come up with to protect the rights of individuals and corporations. I hadn't heard about Dr. Solomon's comments, until I recieved your letter. Quite frankly, I agree with what he is saying. Another major problem with making virus writing illegal is the definition of a virus, or trojan for that matter. It is very difficult to come up with a concrete definition. I appreciate your response, and definately encourage other people, either pro- or anti- virus to respond! -)GHeap