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Ethical Issues in Computer Virus Distribution

Fred Cohen
Computers & Security, 7 (1988) 335-336
ISSN 0167-4048
August 1988

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When I first examined the problem of viruses, I had a severe ethical problem with publishing my results. The problem was that if I published actual viruses, I would be creating a hazard for the computing world, while if I did not publish some sort of program example, the subject would be too hard to understand to get the point across. After thinking about the issue for some time, I decided to publish "pseudo-code" which could not be used directly by an attacker against any particular system, but which would indicate to the reader the nature of the problem.

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