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Ukrainian cops silence old-skool virus tinkerers' playground

'It's not a game any more, chummy'

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Ukrainian cops have shut down a long-running malware exchange website frequented by old-school virus writers.

A message on the front page of the VX Heavens website announces that the site has been forced to shut up shop after the plods seized its servers last Friday as part of a criminal investigation. According to the shuttered site:

For many years we were tried hard to establish a reliable work of the site, which supplied you with a professional quality information on systems security and computer virology. We do always believed that a true research in any field (computer virology included) is only possible in the atmosphere of trust, openness and mutual assistance.

Unfortunately...

Friday, 23 March, the server has being seized by the police forces due to the criminal investigation (article 361-1 Criminal Code of Ukraine - the creation of the malicious programs with an intent to sell or spread them) based on someone's tip-off on "placement into the free access malicious software designed for the unauthorised breaking into computers, automated systems, computer networks".

The absurdity of such statement we need to prove in the court...

We are sorry, but until the case is still open we are unable to offer our services in any form.

VX Heavens, which bills itself as a vault of information, provided virus-writing tutorials as well as malicious code samples and other resources. The site had been running for many years prior to last week's takedown operation.

The site was part of the old-school virus development scene and something of a throwback to days of old before profit-making Trojans dominated the malware landscape, according to anti-virus firms.

"The folks using the VX Heavens website were probably not in the same league as the financially-motivated organised criminals computer users are often troubled by today, and mirror rather more the hobbyist malware authors of yesteryear," explained Graham Cluley in a post on the Sophos Naked Security blog.

"Nevertheless, it's clear that the Ukrainian authorities didn't like what they saw and have confiscated the website's servers in their hunt for evidence of criminality. Let no one be under any illusions: malware creation and distribution of viral code has become a big concern for the-powers-that-be. It's not a game anymore - if you play in this area, don't be surprised if the authorities take a dim view," Cluley added. ®

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