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Interview with Opic

Cicatrix

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How did you start out in computers?

When I was a kid I used to play with my parents Texas Instruments, programed it to add 2 and 2. And when my dad got a 286 with a modem my brother and I used to connect to local (and not so local) BBS's and just talk to people, it was like magic to us.....

How and when did you start out in the virus scene?

I think about a year ago (perhaps more/less)...I caught Anticmos.A from some guy who loaned me a floppy disk....it was fascinating to me...I knew somthing was wrong within a hour, but this guy had this virus for well over a year and a half and didnt know it, he got it from some guy he knew in TX and given it to 3 other people in the building... who would likly have helped it complete its journy clear across the country had i not been infected. The way it functioned and worked was fascinating, it had infected over 250 of this guys floppies, I can only imagine the places that virus went. I think that is the point when I truly became interested in creating viruses; learning the art of making the unexpected happen.

Have you written viruses? If so which would you like to take credit for?

Yes Ive written several, amoung them (aka=av's name for them): Phoebe (aka Phoebe.2523), Stella.440 (aka spooky.440), Prospero (aka Opic.1712 or prospero.1712), Odessa (aka opic.727), Odessa.B and on and on.........

How did you name your viruses?

For awhile I named my viruses only females names because I liked the notion of them being like a storm, hurricane, a Big ship or somthing along those lines. Man seems to name everything he cannot control after a woman. After I got over that little pun I named them after the concepts that the virus carries inside of themselves. I write viruses (other then for the technical challenge and innovations) to communicate with others. You are creating a unique situation when a virus infection occurs. The user is compelled to listen out of fear or confusion or whatever, and a special dialogue is created in which you have that persons undivided attention for as long as it takes them to figure out whats is going on....this seems to me to be a valuable time for me to say somthing important.

Which programming languages do you know?

I have focused mainly on Assembly however lately I've been toying with some HLL's like Pascal, VB (if you can even call that a language), Delphi, and C++.

What programming language do you like using the most?

Assembly, of course :)

Are/were you a member of a VX group?

Yes, I'm a member of the CodeBreakers.

Which AV software do you like/respect the most? Which the least?

Hmmm....I dont think that I like any software enough to say "use this one not this one", but I think AVP does a good job staying up to date (though it cant detect a new virus from a shit on the wall untill they update it) and I think Kaspersky might be a bit on the, uh, slow side the way he is constantly mis/renaming viruses I guess there isn't any particular scanner Id plug as being really good or really bad (well......ok Mcafee is REALLY bad), ..but I've seen good work from some, bad from others. it seems to me there are always a few individuals in each company that define the companies attitude: Some do their job in a very open-minded fashion, others feel a necessity to create a 'pissing contest' between AV and VX, and others who like to demonize the virus and the virus author by choosing to use 'scare tactics' rather then making a good product (Mcafee Example: anyone else seen their TV commercial with several migets painted green? ). Anyways it seems to me that the best AVers are the ones who either dont haves alot of ego-involvment in their work, and/or have an open mind towards the concept of viruses...

What are/were your goals (VX wise)?

Other then to continue to expand my knowledge through virus writing, I would like to focus on helping make the transition of viruses and virus writers from a DOS based enviornment to the Non-DOS enviorment which will follow Windbloze98. There is this stigma on windows programming with virus writers that needs to be broken; I think many of them do not realize that the first generation of virus writers emerged and began to approach writing viruses for DOS, it was probably equally as intimidating, but we should feel lucky to take on this new challenge; DOS viruses have been done and are coming close to being done. It is time to bring the common virus writer into this new age of virus writing.

What is your view on the continuous 'war' between VX and AV.

It is a scam. It is another tool that the AV use to make a situation seem more out of hand, or dangerous then it really is, because plain and simple: scandal sells. Perhaps some AV are not aware that they are "playing a role" but I suspect most do. I try to avoid becoming a part of this because I am (as they are) well aware of the fact that they make a living off what I do out of creative ambition. Im sure that this is inevitable but I'll be damned if I'm going to give them a hand at it.

Where did you get you handle? What does it mean?

I could elaborate on this but I'd hate to bore you with some half-assed personal story.

What is your view on Virus Creation software (eg. VCL, PS-MPC etc.)?

They pose a valuable challenge to those to set out to write them. And they can be a good learning tool for people just starting out, as they can examine the code. Unlike most other coders I know people who add their name to the end of the virus and say that they wrote it dont really bother me, we all know they didnt write it, they are always scannable and never spread, there is a deffinitive difference between a real virus and a virus created from a lab.

What is your view on macro viruses vs. assembly or HLL viruses?

Macro viruses were an interesting and a sucessful invention when they occured. The ordeal has gotten a bit out of hand as far as the number of macro viruses out there, but reproducing code is interesting no matter in what form it comes in-and it was a great new step for the virus writer.

Have you ever confirmed one of your viruses 'in-the-wild'?

I've been told and read of some of my viruses circulating in the wild, but as far as I known none of them have been on the "in-the-wild" list.....yet.

Which VX E-zine do you like most? Which the least?

Outside of the CodeBreakers VX zine? 29a has a top notch thing going, as does SLAM, there are countless VX zines that are great but I think that those two are my favorites....There are none that I can think of that I dislike, there are just some that were more then I expected and I respect them for suprising me.

Which individual or what group do you like/respect in the VX world?

Too many names to mention! Ive met a lot of great virus writers out there....groups I'll list: CodeBreakers (gotta be #1), 29a, Slam, No Mercy Virus Team, Feathered Serpents..... Im only listing the Live ones cuz the dead ones have already had thier time and been given thier credit. Coders without groups: Spanska, Buz, ARC, and guilhem

In the AV world?

I think that Peter Szor (F-prot) does a good job analyizing viruses (though F-Prot itself ain't all that hot), so Kudos to Peter (perhaps this is bad publicity for him, but i hope not....).

Which individual or what group do you like/respect outside the VX or the AV world?

Anyone who is working to further the underground. And by this I do not mean only the computer underground, but any (music, literature, art, intellectual ect. ect.) underground. And from my experince they are all pretty closely related in thier mentality and approach to things. Its is truly essential that the world to have an underground...to have a group of passionatly motivated people who will push in from all sides onto the mainstream forcing changes in the status quo and theway the majority will view and react to things...without this society would become stale and rotten without change.

What is your view on destructive payloads in viruses?

Well, 1st off they have been done to death. 2nd, they tend to make people notice your virus, which would obviously keep it from spreading any further. And, 3rd why bother when there are so many more interesting and creative manipulations you can make to a system? Generally I dont look down on people who write destructive rutines, as it is thier decision, but I am less likly to be interested in thier code, I would be more interested in seeing code to a virus that dials a victums modem to say; the authors ex- girlfriends house rather then one that destroys a disk.

Do you think there is such a thing as a 'good' virus?

Sure, but I'm in favor of them so I think lots of viruses are good. :) But really, I think there are benificial viruses, and I think that programmers may take method from virus writers all the time. There are some viruses now which contain compression engines which will actually shrink the size of an infected file saving the victum extra space on thier HDD....sounds good to me.

What do you do in 'real' life?

Well outside of writing viruses (that's my real life also isnt it? yes, i think it is...) I go to an art skool (college) and am planning a wonderful career in starving to death, hang out with friends, write, paint, follow underground music, ect, ect. In actuality a computer has no other place in my life except writing viruses and learning about computer themselves function. It is a decision on my part to even turn one on, and in a way I feel lucky for that, as some guys have to sit on computers doing things they dispise all day, for me its a pleasure; to do and explore whatever I like.

Do people outside the VX scene know what you do (parents, girlfriend etc.)?

Some do; my parents, my girlfriend, and a few close friends know. The rest do not, as they have no need to.

Did you do other computer stuff outside VX (Hacking, phreaking, warez etc.)?

Not much, I dabbled in hacking a bit, phreaking was too risky for my blood, and warez is really boring to me (does it bother anyone else that 16 yr old kids sit on a computer for 3+ days obsessivly collecting apps that he will never use...it just doest sit well with me I guess).

Should viruses be illegal? Is there a difference between creation and spreading?

Making the writing of viruses illegal is a breech of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so whoever wants to can have a fun time trying to convince everyone to make a new draft and put their John Hanncock on it (but yes I'll be the first one pullin the pen from yer hand). And I think there is a clear difference between the writing and spreading of viruses, anyone who thinks differently probably hasnt considered it well enough yet.

Describe the perfect virus.

One that learns from its mistakes.

What is your view on Windows (95)

New frontier for virus writers: stop spiteing it and start infecting it!

What is your advice for people just starting out?

At first writing viruses is Two steps forwards, three steps back. This will change in time, read and ask questions, and then read some more. Its just like learning anything else.....just add water.

Where can you be reached if at all?

[email protected]

Any greets?

All the CodeBreakers. All the VX groups and its members that I know, Undernet #Vir, Groucho, and all the other great people I know who I may have inadvertantly missed....

Any other comments?

I bet Bill Gates could win over the justice department if he got an even huger video screen to stand in front of at all times. :)

Short responses to the following names or words:

What are your future plans, projects (VX wise)?

Write more and better viruses, tutorials, apps, and bring the CodeBreakers into Infamy.

Any new tutorials planned?

Yes in CB #4 (which will probably be released by the time you read this) there will be a tutorial on the values and practice of Reverse Engineering authored by myself and Horny Toad. Also I have plans to write some tutorials on polymorphism in concept and practice.

If you can eleborate on The Codebreakers

The CodeBreakers have tried to fill in the gaps in the study and explanation of virus writing. We have made virus writing accessible to the layman. Our VX zines start from the ground up and we are leaving no stone unturned, for our audience: we are bearing all. At first we were criticized for teaching such basic material in depth the way we have, but now in retrospect (as we move more and more into advanced techniques - and even moreso into the future when we will deal with windows virus writing in many approaches) it will prove to be a huge and notable acomplishment......as once we will have brought basic virus writing to the layman in full we will push the new frontiers to the point of collapse........

The CodeBreakers: Committed to Excellence.

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