Nowhere Man offers computer virus revenge

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The Independent Online
FANCY writing your own computer virus to get back at a vindictive employer but lack the programming skills to do so? Well, the latest eccentric from the obscure sub-culture of computer crime is offering to help.

An American programmer has set up a free software 'laboratory' to help people write customised computer viruses. Like many in this hi-tech world, he has adopted a code name, Nowhere Man. He claims to be a member of the NuKe virus-writing circle.

Mild viruses may simply freeze a computer system so that it cannot be used, but most are potentially harmful. They can corrupt or wipe valuable data and send networks of expensive computers into confusion, threatening businesses. Viruses can even put lives at risk by infecting systems used by emergency services or corrupting medical records.

Nowhere Man has sent copies of his Virus Creation Laboratory to an electronic bulletin board, known as a virus exchange, called The Hell Pit, which is run by a group called Phalcon/Skism. A telephone call to the Californian exchange gives someone with no knowledge of virus-writing the chance to design and construct a nuisance program. The service is free, and the author even offers technical support.

Edward Wilding, editor of the Virus Bulletin, said it is only a matter of time before the virus-creating software arrives in Britain. 'The software is only a phone call away,' he said. Technical advisers to the newsletter are still unravelling the laboratory's code, but early indications are that the viruses are rather clumsy. They are fairly easy to detect and are usually capable only of leaving the files they infect 'hanging' in mid-air.

'What is most amusing is that he is trying to claim copyright on viruses created using his kit,' Mr Wilding said. The author has also said he is prepared to sue to defend this claim. But computer lawyers are dismissing such a claim as laughable.

Mr Wilding said he intends to ignore the copyright threat and publish bits of viral code in his bulletin to help people to spot viruses created using the kit.

Computer guinea-pigs, page 15

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