School without thought - your thoughts

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Jun 30, 2003

Your thoughts on the University of Calgary's proposals to teach virus writing in its course on computer viruses and malware.

Recently VB reported on the University of Calgary's plans for a new undergraduate course that will 'focus on developing malicious software such as computer viruses, worms and Trojan horses that are known to wreak havoc to the tune of billions of dollars worldwide on an annual basis'. The following are some of your responses to the report.

 Regarding the article (http://www.virusbtn.com/news/latest_news/calgaryuni.xml), I disagree with your point of view on this. Dr Aycock will probably be forced to stop his course because of sentiment like the content of your article. Nevertheless, it's nice to see that there are still free thinkers. "The AV industry had better brace itself if we are to expect a future in which virus writers are the leaders of tomorrow." Statements like that are very funny, it's basically UTism. Funny because virus writers tend to become the "leaders of tomorrow." And the software engineers, piano tuners, AV analysts, stock brokers etc. I agree with the idea that it's not necessary to write viruses to learn how to protect against them (http://www.avien.org/publicletter.htm). But it's probably the easiest way to learn how to protect against them. It's also a good way to learn about the internals of a given operating system and the hardware of a particular architecture. It's also definitely a good way to inspire creativity and get students involved. The strongest reason for a class like this is mentioned in http://www.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/News/virus_course.html [LINK SINCE REMOVED]. For the most part, antivirus software is reactive (with exceptions like heuristics and integrity checkers). The traditional model of coding a sig scanner for each specific virus fails to anticipate new viruses. Heuristics and integrity checking fail if the virus coder works around them. I don't expect anyone in the antivirus industry to look for novel long term solutions because of the income from the subscription/update model. Scott Cruzen

 If the information is being sent to Microsoft for evaluation purposes, to plug up holes in the system; this class would make some sense. Otherwise, it is only assisting the 'anti-virus sellers' in their money making sales needed to protect the Internet and our systems. JEMeives

What do you think? Send your comments to [email protected]

Posted on 30 June 2003 by Virus Bulletin

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