Feeds

Virus writers have girlfriends - official

And some don't even need inflating

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

The stereotype of virus writers as spotty nerds who can't pull is well wide of the mark, according to an expert on the psychology of virus writers. Sarah Gordon, senior principal research engineer at Symantec Security Response, said that the more recent idea that virus writing activity is focused mainly around money-making scams is inaccurate.

Gordon - sometimes described as the Clarice Starling of anti-virus security - has interviewed over a hundred virus writers in the course of years of research. She found the type of person who causes the disruption that accompanies the release of malicious code varied considerably by age, education, income, interests and social skills.

"Most of the adult males I've interviewed have had girlfriends. Female virus writers have had boyfriends. The stereotypes are wrong," Gordon told El Reg.

Gordon drew a distinction between viruses created out of technical curiosity - which still account for the majority of "in-the-wild" viruses - and malicious code created by criminal elements in the hacking community as a way of stealing personal information on computer resources. Agobot, Bagle and the like get all the publicity but the vast majority of viruses are written by people as a technical challenge. These nuisance virus writers have no conception of the damage and inconvenience their creations can cause. "Virus writing is irresponsible but not difficult," she said.

For years, Gordon has attended conferences and conventions attended by virus writers and corresponded with them online as a way of better understanding the motives behind virus creation and how it might be possible to make VXers stop their anti-social activities. She is over in Europe to complete final work on a thesis for her PhD in computer science. ®

Related stories

Virus writers obsessed with sex and computer games
Belgian police arrest female virus writer
Anna-bug author OnTheFly 'fesses up
The strange death of the mass mailing virus
Botnets, phishing and spyware

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.