Q

Fighting back against virus writers

I have been stung by viruses enough that now I want to fight back. My initial research though, seems to indicate that the general focus is on the defensive and nothing is available for the offensive.

Maybe I'm looking for something that doesn't exist! Are there methods or programs that can be used to track down and prosecute these people? It seems to me that, even if it's a very complicated issue, there has to be a discussion group working on it.

Hiding from the thugs has never worked. I feel that it's time that we track them down and make public examples of them. It's time to 'take back the streets!'

Thank you for your time and consideration.


While I understand your desire to "get back" at the "thugs," I am unaware of any group openly plotting such endeavours.

A few problems to consider as well:

  • Most countries do not have laws against writing viruses and worms, although damage to data is usually covered.
  • Even when these laws do exist, serious data destruction with a value high enough to justify the cost of investigation and prosecution is usually needed before the authorities will take action. They have limited budgets, like the rest of us, and must decide where to focus their efforts.
  • Sometimes it is fairly easy to track down who created a piece of malicious code and sometimes it is not.

I would not endorse vigilante action against the authors, who may or not be aware of the aggravation they cause you. I know many young people who think viruses are fun and cool because they focus on the technology and not the implications.

I would encourage you to see how you could work towards dealing with the source of the problem, rather than the symptom. People writing viruses and worms have issues that are not being resolved or addressed by the world they inhabit. They get messages from the mass media about flawed heroes, the value of infamy and often have a need for peer recognition, no matter what the reason.

The products they produce (malicious code) are not going to disappear until the reasons they are being produced are dealt with.

Perhaps you can spend some time helping to educate young people around you in terms of the implications of their actions. I'm not talking about moralistic preaching -- just explaining that if they hack or write viruses, they might cause others some serious problems. These people are not stupid, nor usually very malicious -- they just have some misunderstanding around the implications and desirability of their actions.

I'm glad you asked about this. AVIEN and AVI-EWS have just created a new mailing list for talking about how to work together to make it a safer world we compute in.


For more information about this topic, visit these other SearchSecurity.com resources:
Best Web Links: Malware
News & Analysis: Worms may be losing their bite, thanks to enterprise prevention
Virus Prevention Tip: 100% virus-free e-mail?


This was first published in December 2002

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