PC Virus: Who Writes a PC Virus?
PC Virus: Who Writes a PC Virus?
Gabillions of CPU cycles are consumed every day in the fight against PC Viruses. Huge corporations spring up almost overnight, offering free products for protecting against nasty viruses, spyware, malware, and dirty underwear. Who writes this stuff?
PC Virus software usually represents some sophisticated programming. Given that modern operating systems have evolved over many years, most obvious security holes have been closed. In order to find a weakness, computer scientists carefully analyze operating system software with high-tech tools and oodles of patience. For better or worse, potential security risks are sometimes made public. Publishing this information on the Internet is thought to be a strategy for applying public pressure toward fixing the problems.
Eventually, someone, or a team of someones, sits down at a computer and programs a PC virus. We at the Institute for the Painfully Obvious went deep undercover to learn more about the shadowy world of virus programmers. We studied literally one or two different folks who spend their time writing the code that gives us all fits. We gave up our late afternoons and Saturday mornings hanging out in seedy cafes, drinking energy drinks with seedy cafe customers. Eventually these people took us into their confidence; we were introduced to a world that few people ever experience.
Come along with us as we interview a PC virus programmer. Prepare for peek into the dark underbelly of software engineering.
We Interview a PC Virus Writer
IFTPO: Thank you for meeting with us.
Ernest Hemingway (NOT HIS REAL NAME): You're welcome. Would you like a cruller?
IFTPO: No, thank you. Are crullers eaten by all PC virus writers?
EH: Yes. Absolutely. You can't be in the PC Virus Writer's club unless you eat crullers.
IFTPO: Please tell us a little about yourself.
EH: Sure. I'm 18-30 years old, I live in my parents' basement, and I flunked out of community college because the computer programming courses were too easy.
IFTPO: Are you disaffected?
EH: I was, but I'm still on my parent's health insurance, so I was able to get a prescription for that.
IFTPO: What do you do all day?
EH: I wake up at about 6AM. I have a secret conference with several of my closest PC virus writer friends. We decide what PC virus we will write that day.
IFTPO: Ah. Is the secret meeting held in an encrypted chat room routed through a proxy server in Thailand?
EH: Sometimes. Usually they just ride their bikes over here after my parents leave for work.
IFTPO: What current projects are you developing?
EH: We have a really cool trojan that disguises itself as a bootlegged episode of The View. It attaches to the boot sector of legacy Windows operating systems, including Windows Me, and turns the machine into a zombie that can be used to play World of Warcraft.
IFTPO: Umm... you're writing a PC virus to attack Windows Me?
EH: Sure! It's really neat. I have this old PC that my grandfather gave me, with Windows Me on it.
IFTPO: Are you aware that no one uses Windows Me anymore?
EH: That's because there were no cool viruses to run on it. We expect it to make a comeback.
IFTPO: Moving on, how did you get started programming viruses?
EH: The cable company turned off my service. I got bored.
IFTPO: How did you learn to write computer programs?
EH: I reprogrammed the cash register at Taco Bell to put onions in the Cinnamon Twists.
IFTPO: And you got fired?
EH: (laughs) No! They promoted me to assistant manager.
IFTPO: Fascinating. Is that how you make a living?
EH: No, that was too much like work. I just do odd jobs for
IFTPO: Such as?
EH: Well, for example, I helped some friends in Nigeria who
are trying to get 100 million dollars out of the country. Nice people.
They paid very well.
IFTPO: Wait a minute! Those emails are real?
EH: Sure. You just have to know how to talk to them. Why?
You been deleting them? lol.
IFTPO: Thank you for meeting with us, but I have to check my
EH: No problem. Take a few crullers for the road, OK?