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The old School Virus writers (VXers) scene is dying a death, according to Symantec.

Key members of long-established VXers groups are drifting away while others are struggling to get enough material together for underground malware magazines. "There should be no question anymore that the VX scene is dying," Symantec reports.

Roy g biv has officially left the 29A group while prominent member Vallez has been silent for over a year. 29A, Hexadecimal for 666, is a virus writer group known for creating the first Win 2000 virus and early examples of mobile malware that infected PDAs and the like.

Meanwhile neither EOF or DoomRiderz, other loose-knit VXer groups, have enough material for a new zine. The two are planning to throw in the lot with another group, rRlf, in an attempt to get together enough material for a magazine. "Even those three groups combined might not have enough material for a zine," notes Symantec researcher Peter Ferrie.

Profit has replaced mischief, intellectual curiosity or a desire to make a name for yourself as the motive for creating malware over recent years. Traditional virus writers have drifted away from the scene to be replaced by more shadowy coders creating sophisticated Trojans aimed at turning an illicit profit. Enforcement action against virus writers has acted as a further disincentive for hobbyists though not, unfortunately, for those that make their livelihood from cybercrime.

Virus writing has changed from a cottage industry to a commercial enterprise. So instead of getting proof of concept malware from hobbyists we're dealing with the Storm worm Trojan and other sophisticated "professionally developed" botnet clients, such as Nugache, a new malware strain that can be controlled without use of a command and control server.

The days of malware that deletes Romanian gypsy music, talks to victims or creates a game that allows users of infected PCs to throw coconuts at anti-virus expert Graham Cluley have become relics of another era. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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