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Perusing The Virus Author Mentality

Lord Julus
VX-tasy [1]
August 1999

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Foreword

It's been three years since my first encounter with the virus programming field and I have to say that, from the information gathering point of view, from the understanding point of view and from the point of view of the research itself, they were three magnificent years. As a beginner I stumbled over tutorials, vx magazines and virus sources once I got myself hooked to the Internet... After that, it was just a small step. As a virus writter I cannot say I was successful, because I wasnt. Maybe the main thing beyond my viral activity incognaisance is the fact that I really, really get bored so quicly. Once I manage to reach a certain goal, I cannot be bothered to make all the banalities in order to make it a complete virus. That's why I mainly decided to write tutorials and include there the most part of my knoledge and ideas. However, I found myself at a certain point, wondering why was I really doing this? This is how this article emerged, an article in which I will try to peruse the motivation behind the virus writer and to point out a trend for a virus writer's activity. I would be so glad to receive any ideas on this issue (after you read this...) on my e-mail address ([email protected]) in order to make the best virus author portret. Thanx.

Disclaimer

This article is written for research purposes only. Any resemblance with a living or dead person is purely accidental and cannot be taken seriously. Just read the damn thing!

Who is the virus writter?

There are quite a few things that catch the people's eyes when they first meet with a computer. Just to mention some: games, demos, multimedia, etc. It is not long until the people start to think: how can I do all those things... It is then when people start purchasing books and start to learn. But, don't get me wrong, only a part of people are actually doing that. Above a certain age, nobody is willing to learn to code anymore. In my humble opinion the age of the person who starts to learn coding goes from 15 years old until 25 years old.

Before 15 years the mind is not complete to understand the main concepts behind programming. I don't say that younger people cannot code, but surely until 15 years old they will not be bright (note that I do not consider the genius cases, which exist).

Also, if you didn't learn to code at least one language until 25, it is 90% sure that you will never do. Even the age between 21-25 is difficult. The difficulties come from the beginning of the family, or only sex life, which kinda drags the people into society and away from the dark side of the Internet chat.

However, if you did learn to code until 25, you could probably continue to do so until 80, but for sure you will start looking at other fields than virus writting. The reason for that is that if one decides to go into the computers bussiness, he must also earn money... No can do with viruses for that!

So, the age of the virus writer is 15-25. I know the spread is a little big, but it is true...

Now, let's focus on the gender. It is of no question that 99.99% of thevirus authors are men. The 0.01% which are women probably only think about it. I have no clear explanation on this issue, but I guess it can be found by researching men's desire of conquest, opposite to women desire of inner achieving and interiorization. Men like to be liked and are trying to do it by force sometimes, even if it is obvious that the goal will not be achived (I had a college mate who used to poke his face with needles thinking girls will like him... None did...) Women also try to impose, but if they do not achive this they retire inside themselves and even cry. Man, tries to get revenge... Also, you could consider that the 'technical world' is more a men's world. Rather than writing a virus, a women would better poke you with the scissors. Men try to find more "delicate" ways to obtain even bigger results.

Talking about the family could bring even more light on the virus author portret. First of all, it takes some money to earn a computer. Usually people that get their PCs at their command, the next day, are people who do not worry about money and they will probably never think about writing viruses. They will probably not even open their computer but to play games or use Microsoft Office (bleah!). It's the people that have to earn their computer that will probably write viruses. There is a very small line linking hacking and phreaking to virus authoring. If you don't have money, you will try to learn how to steal credit cards and how to foul the phone company. It's a very small step until virus writing. Suddenly all that is ilegal gives you a special feeling, something that drags you to do it... Also, the atmosphere in the house must influence that. A stressed person will try to refulate in the computer. A person living in a family with problems (quarels, fights, etc), will isolate himself in the dark circles of the irc chat and other forms of cyber talk. So, i'd say that the usual virus writer comes from a family with some problems and not having sufficent money to fulfill all the desires.

I'd have to say, that myself, I am pretty much in this picture.

Also, on very important thing. Sometimes the virus author is presented like some kind of antisocial creature almost close to a murderer. Instead, most of the virus authors I know are very intelligent people, attending Universities and colleges, and all of them are pretty sure they will drop this hobby after geting into the real life (that's when geting a full time job... ;-/)

This was a brief description of the external factors that could lead to virus writing, IMHO, of course... Criticize if you like...

How virus writing attracts people?

The answer to this question is fairily simple. Basically anything which can make a person appear in a nice picture in front of the others will always attract him. This is why demo making attracts so much the programmers. Demos are cool and nice. However, they are pretty hard to do. But viruses are not so hard, and still one can make his name go around the world just with some hundred lines of code. This is why usualy virus authors will not stay too much in the safe place given by anonymacy. Most of them will join a group or more, or even form a new one, and will start to act on the Internet. How can you wonder why virus writing attract people? It's a way that can make you:

No need to go any furthure.

Virus authors classification

Well, like any other classification, mine is also touched by my own subjectivism. It is normal to be so, as from the definition of the being itself, a personal opinion is subjective. It is objective only if the statement is a know and accepted truth, which is not the case here. So, this is my own classification. Deal with it! ;-)

So, my categorization goes like this:

  1. Learning freaks
    these are the people who will learn fast just about anything concerning computers and virus writing will be just a small step in their entire programming career and will help them develop different techniques.
  2. Bored programmers
    these are the guys who probably work a lot on computers at work but still they are addicted to computers. At home they feel like doing something different. Virus writing could be one of the possible escapes.
  3. Adrenalided teenagers
    very young people who got a grip on computers and "they wanna sh0w the w0rld!!". Usually the most dangerous virus authors; however easy to be scared. I assume these are the wide spreaders. But if they get cought once, they will probably quit doing this and start making exploding rockets or something.
  4. Deceptioned people
    here is a very strange category, I assume. These are people that were deceptioned in life and feel like taking a revenge on the whole world. For example people left by their lovers, people who failed some very important exams or were kicked of their jobs. The anger is fulfilled in revenge through a deadly virus.
  5. Funny people
    these are probably the least dangerous people. They make viruses for fun and their payload is usually one that should amuse the user (if we could say so). For example displaying a picture of their favorite star, or print some lyrics of their favorite group.
  6. Money makers
    this is a very dangerous breed. They would get friendly with almost all virus writters and learn stuff. Then they would release a virus and after that, under a different name, an anti-virus. I say dangerous because I do not like this kind of double life. But in reality their viruses cannot be really dangerous because if they get cought they could be in really big trouble.
  7. Sceners
    I call like this people who are in the scene, write in their entire life one or maybe two viruses, but their activity is very low. They simply enjoy the company of the "bad guys" and they like to hang around them. They lack fame at home or at school but around the scene they can act really cool.

Note that this classification has nothing to do with the quality of the viruses written. For example a Scener could write the best virus and then retire, or a funny guy could write a very advanced virus. The classification takes into account the comportament of the people and the "thing" pushing him to do it.

Virus writers' future

My conclusion doesn't only apply to virus authors, but also to hackers, crackers and phrackers. It goes like this: as long as computers will exist, no matter how complicated and/or secured will they be, there will always exist virus authors. You think you can contradict this with arguments? I don't think so, but if you do, I can hardly wait. I'd say that my conclusion goes like an axiom. You cannot prove it, but it is more than clear that it is true. So, do not even think that the virus authors will vanish eventualy with the new operating systems and new tools. We will always be here in one or another form... So beware... We could work in your company... We could be one of the network administrators... We could be your children... ;-> Gotta learn to live with us...

All the Best,
Lord Julus - 1999
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