by CIO Staff

Conversation with a Virus Coder

Jun 01, 20013 mins
IT Strategy

Scalet: What made you choose virus writing instead of some other destructive activity, or instead of some productive activity? What is it about virus coding that you find satisfying?

Black Jack: For me virus writing is simply a hobby. It is interesting and funny for me, so I enjoy it, just as other people enjoy playing chess. Besides that, it is an intellectual challenge. That it is a hobby should also explain why I use my time for such ?unproductive? activities: Most hobbies have no practical use (stamp collecting would be a perfect example). Their only purpose is to be fun.

Why virus writing is actually so interesting for me is difficult to say. Assembly coding in general fascinates me, but the main reason is probably the idea of creating artificial life. This should also answer the question why I prefer virus writing to other ?destructive activities.? Although, to come to another important point, I don?t really see it as destructive. I have never spread any of my creations myself, because I am very well aware of the facts that a computer virus in the wrong place can cause big trouble, and that virus spreading is therefore an act of vandalism. The only thing I do is publish them in the Internet, for other people who share my interest, and I don?t see anything wrong in that. [CIO learned that this distinction does not matter to the FBI.]

Unfortunately I can?t stop other people [who] download my viruses and use them to infect innocent third-party people. I don?t like the fact at all that someone might have problems because of a virus of mine, but I don?t feel guilty, because as I see it, I did nothing wrong. The guilty one is the person that downloaded them (probably without even knowing exactly what they did) and used it to infect someone else.

Scalet: Interesting morality. You don?t like the fact that someone might have problems because of a virus, but you don?t feel guilty?

Black Jack: An analogy often used in the virus scene are fire weapons. Someone who builds and sells guns is not responsible if a madman uses his guns to run amok. In the same way, I am not directly responsible if someone else uses my viruses to infect someone?s computer.

Scalet: But if people don?t understand what they?re doing, as you say, then isn?t it akin to leaving a loaded weapon in a school yard?

Black Jack: That is a valid point. Yes, I have to admit, maybe virus publishing is a bit irresponsible. On the other hand, I see viruses as a kind of information, and my main philosophy as a scientist is that all information must be free.

Scalet: Do you feel proud?you have created ?artificial life? that is propagating on its own?

Black Jack: I feel pretty proud about all my newer viruses, but only for creating them, because I think they are not too badly coded. But I don?t feel proud about the fact that the Demiurg seems to be in the wild?as I already said, I don?t like that at all.