Re: Recipe for Destruction - Joy/Kurzweil NYTimes Op-Ed

From: Phil Goetz (
Date: Tue Oct 18 2005 - 10:04:31 MDT

> McAfee might not publish the code to computer viruses but they are
> freely available elsewhere. I wouldn't be surprised if McAfee
> mirrored these virus code repositories for their own understanding,
> and to help them make a better product.

I don't support releasing the flu genome - but the parallel with
computer viruses doesn't support my position. I spent several
days trying to acquire a computer virus library for a grant proposal
in which I had to show that I had one available. Only a relatively
small number of computer viruses (dozens) are publicly available in
only a few places. However, vast libraries of computer viruses exist
(up to 50,000 in a library), in two places: at antivirus software
companies, and in the hands of virus-writers and virus fans who
trade viruses the way people used to trade software.

The demographics of these groups are interesting.
Antivirus software companies exist primarily in the same countries
in which virus-writers live in large numbers, and antivirus
professionals frequently interact with, know, or are virus-writers.
Not a single antivirus company has been established in the US
since the 1980s AFAIK; several dozen have sprung up overseas,
primarily in Eastern Europe. Virus research conferences in the US
are irrelevant academic meetings, since the people who actually write
antivirus software, other than McAfee and Symantec/Norton and one
other I forget, no longer bother to attend US meetings.
I don't know why this happened, so I don't know if real-world
virus/antivirus research may develop similar demographics.

- Phil

Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005

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