The shape of things to come


Helen Martin

Virus Bulletin, UK
Editor: Helen Martin


Momentous changes are in the pipeline for VB – with an exciting future ahead. Helen Martin announces the changes that are in store for the publication and the company.

The saying goes ‘all good things must come to an end’, but in this case impending changes within VB mark not so much an end as a subtle shift in gear for VB.

Shape shifting

First, after 25 years, the format, schedule and subscription model of VB’s publications is set to change: the June 2014 issue will be the 300th and final issue of Virus Bulletin in traditional, monthly ‘magazine’ format.

In 1989, when the very first Virus Bulletin rolled off the press (produced in a black-and-white, printed pamphlet style), there was only one subscriber and there were only 14 viruses known for the IBM PC.

Five years on (by which time editor Richard Ford was writing about the ‘over 3,000 viruses known to researchers’), the magazine saw its first layout change – brought about following feedback from the magazine’s readership in a bid to provide a better way to get the message across.

It was another ten years before VB saw its next makeover, but it was worth the wait – the now familiar full colour design made its entrance in 2003 with the intention of giving the publication an image that would endure long into the 21st century.

Finally, in 2005 we announced what would be the greatest change the magazine had seen: in January 2006, VB embraced the digital age and became a wholly electronic publication, changing the subscription model and waving a fond farewell to the hard copy pamphlets.

It now falls to me to announce even more far-reaching changes: from 1st July 2014, while VB will continue to provide unbiased and exceptional reporting of all matters relevant to the threat landscape, the articles will no longer be bundled together into monthly publications – instead, they will be released on on a much more frequent (weekly at a minimum) basis.

Alongside the change in format will be another radical change: from 1 July 2014, all Virus Bulletin content will be freely available to all – subscription fees will no longer apply and there will be no barriers to accessing VB’s content on

We often talk of knowledge being a powerful weapon in the fight against cybercrime – and we hope that making VB accessible to all will prove an effective way to reach a significantly wider audience.

New adventures & familiar faces

Alongside the changes in the format and schedule of the publication are some equally momentous changes on a more personal scale. After 13 years as Editor of Virus Bulletin, the time has come for me to pass the baton on.

For me, the last 13 years have run the full gamut from daunting to challenging, exhilarating and rewarding – but now it is time for someone else to embark on that adventure and for me to begin a new one.

The future for VB is tremendously exciting, with two familiar faces stepping up to take on new roles and responsibilities.

The role of Editor will be filled by Martijn Grooten, who will have overall responsibility for all of VB’s content.

Martijn came to VB in 2007 as a web developer, but it very soon became clear that his skills, interests and aptitude went far beyond sprucing up the company’s web presence. Little more than a year after joining Virus Bulletin he set about designing the methodology for VB’s comparative reviews of anti-spam products, and he has run the VBSpam tests ever since. During the last few years he has also worked on developing the soon-to-be-introduced VBWeb web filter tests, delivered papers at numerous conferences and maintained VB’s blog and social media presence.

Meanwhile, John Hawes will become VB’s Chief of Operations. John will have overall responsibility for steering the company, as well as continuing to coordinate all of VB’s testing and certification activity.

Since joining the company in 2006, John has made huge improvements to the VB100 certification scheme, honing and refining the test methodology and introducing new ways in which to measure products’ performances. With over a decade of experience in security testing, John’s warm, friendly nature combined with a great depth of knowledge have earned him significant respect within the industry, and in 2011 he was elected to the board of directors of the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO).

Both Martijn and John have lots of exciting and innovative ideas for the company – both in terms of strengthening our current offerings and introducing new products and services – and I feel confident that I will be leaving it in very safe and capable hands.

Reflecting on the last 13 years, in some ways it seems like only yesterday that I was a complete novice (read rabbit in the headlights) cautiously taking my first steps in the anti-malware industry, yet in other ways it’s hard to believe that so much in the industry has changed – spam, phishing, spyware, botnets, targeted attacks, malware-for-profit and government-sponsored malware are just a few of the issues that didn’t feature prominently when I arrived at VB.

One thing that has not changed is the warmth and friendliness of the members of the AV community. There can’t be many industries in which an outsider can be made to feel as welcome and as supported as I did, and have continued to feel. I still can’t claim to be an expert in this field, but I can certainly say that I have been made to feel as if I belong.

The 155 magazine issues, 13 conferences and three seminars for which I have been responsible have all come to fruition thanks to some very talented contributors, as well as the help and support of VB’s ever-patient technical editors and advisory board, and the unwavering dedication of the Virus Bulletin team. I can’t thank my back up team enough for making this such an enjoyable and (relatively!) stress free ride.

You can’t get rid of me that easily though (after a 13 year tenure it really would be asking too much to go cold turkey): my new adventure takes me to rural Italy, from where (in amongst the olive groves) I will still be involved in the editing and proof-reading of VB’s content as well as assisting with the planning and organizing of the VB conference.

So it is not ‘goodbye’, but ‘see you later’ (arrivederci). I look forward with great anticipation to watching new life being breathed into VB – and I look forward to catching up with you in Seattle!



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