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A Case for Benevolent Viruses

Fred Cohen

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In recent months, a controversy has arisen in the electronic and print media as to the viability of benevolent computer viruses and the morality of a contest to find useful applications of this technology. In this paper, we discuss the issues related to applying computer viruses for good instead of evil.

We begin with some background on viruses and related topics in `life-like' computational organisms. Next we examine some of the major problems facing the current global computing environment and how viruses have the potential for helping to solve these problems. We then consider several widely stated arguments against the application of computer viruses for useful purposes and provide counterpoints.

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