Posted by Virus Bulletin on Oct 8, 2015
This Throwback Thursday, we turn the clock back to February 2004 when Stuart Taylor wondered whether there was truly a criminal element entering virus writing.
These days, no one would argue that there wasn't a criminal element in virus writing — cybercrime is big business and has evolved into a truly organized crime ecosystem. On browsing back through the VB archives, we were surprised to find almost the exact point at which the anti-virus community realised that virus writing was starting to veer away from the realms of the annoying and bothersome script kiddies and becoming a far more serious and sinister occupation.
In September 2002, Bugbear had hit the news headlines due to the fact that it was capable of stealing credit card details, and Mimail followed, using social engineering tricks to fool recipients into giving away their credit card details via fake PayPal pages. Gradually, we were starting to see a different side of malware, and in February 2004, Stuart Taylor wrote an opinion piece for VB, pondering the question 'Who writes the viruses?'.
Stuart believed that we might be experiencing a new trend in virus writing, with a definite hint that the criminal element of society might be becoming involved with the express purpose of perpetrating fraud. His article mentioned other industry members who had made similar comments, indicating that this really was the point at which the penny was dropping in the AV community. Stuart's article concluded by suggesting that we would all need work much harder and more openly if we were to prevent this criminal trend from growing — in hindsight this might seem like wishful thinking, but on the brink of a new trend, putting a stop to it clearly seemed a more realistic prospect.