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Unemployed virus writers take heart

Source: The Register
By George Smith, SecurityFocus
Date: May 13, 2003

vspace="0" The recording industry is hiring cyber miscreants to attack its own customers. And we thought you'd never amount to anything, writes George Smith, SecurityFocus columnist.
Nowhere Man, please listen, the recording industry has a job for you. The pay is good, the work easy and exciting, ripe with opportunity for someone creatively adept at clandestine dirty tricks. Nowhere Man was an American virus-writer -- vintage 1992 -- who "invented" the Virus Creation Lab, one of the first widely-distributed programs to automate the production of malicious software. It was full of smirking computer hotfoots, none difficult for the anti-virus industry to counter, but ideal for turning a cyberspatial tenderfoot's afternoon into a hair-pulling good time.
Conceptually, it was perfect for a recording industry "exploring options," as the New York Times obliquely put it last week, for "overwhelming [music] distribution networks with potentially malicious programs that masquerade as music files." Included with the Virus Creation Lab were the Nowhere Utilities, a set of "tools" to be used in plaguing software pirates, the feeble-minded, people in the wrong place at the wrong time and the avaricious with the electronic equivalent of free poisoned chocolate candies."They were for taking down lamers!" Nowhere Man laughed ten years ago.
Some were designed to create waste-your-time dummy files called "fakewarez"^; Madonna would have certainly liked them. Others took advantage of file compression to create seemingly small archived binaries which expanded to system-crashing Brobdingnagian size when expanded, a stunt that still worked on some electronic file scanners a couple years back. Other techniques disguised old viruses or patched code so that the use of a program would corrupt or erase data. Taken singly, they were merely annoying. But in the aggregate they were enablers of escalating hostility.
Using Nowhere Man's software in 1992, I quickly made a virus called Heevahava, the name being a Pennsylvania Dutch pejorative for a simpleton, colloquially -- a farmhand given the job of harvesting sperm from a bull. "A more malicious program, dubbed 'freeze,' locks up a computer system..." wrote the Times of "industry options" to fight piracy. Heevahava locked up the machine, too, and could even be custom-tailored to display an annoying message, perhaps like: "Only Heevahavas steal music. Stop thief or else!"

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