[ISN] Virus writers' community split by arrest

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sun Apr 04 1999 - 05:18:33 PDT

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    Forwarded From: William Knowles <erehwonat_private>
    NEW YORK (AP) [4.2.99] - The close-knit underground of computer virus
    creators split into two camps at the news that one of their own may have
    been arrested for releasing malicious Melissa. 
    ``The whole community has really been shaken up by this,'' said B.K. 
    Delong, who follows the virus scene. ``The first group is one that wants a
    better reputation. Then there's the community that wants to retaliate and
    come up with even more destructive viruses.''
    Virus creators gather at the Virus Exchange Underground, a computer chat
    area where they swap ideas and gossip. Most are programmers interested in
    viruses and computer bugs. They often write viruses and swap them among
    themselves, Delong said.
    They refer to themselves as ``Black Hats,'' interested in doing damage,
    and ``White Hats.'' The Black Hats sometimes release viruses through
    e-mail or Usenet newsgroups.
    In a statement released on behalf of the VX Underground, as it's often
    called, the group warned the media and investigators not to quickly
    condemn the author of Melissa.
    ``Instead they should be more interested in the person who released the
    bug which caused the spread of the virus,'' said the statement, which was
    e-mailed to The Associated Press.
    Melissa was originally posted on two sex discussion groups a week ago
    Friday, according to an online search. The VX Underground said it was
    highly unlikely those two posts out of thousands could have led to
    Melissa's vicious cascade.
    ``However, once released others posted the Melissa source code to
    additional newsgroups, Web sites and listservs (mailing lists), which
    meant anyone could turn it into the virus and continue to spread it,'' the
    statement continued.
    David L. Smith, 30, of Aberdeen, N.J., was arrested Friday and charged
    with originating the destructive Melissa, which infected hundreds of
    thousands of computers and swamped hundreds of companies' e-mail systems.
    Computer experts used unique identification numbers embedded in Microsoft
    Word documents to trace Melissa back to a well-known virus writer who
    calls himself VicodinES.
    Rita Malley, spokeswoman for the New Jersey state attorney general's
    office said Smith was ``definitely not'' the person known by that handle.
    Instead, Smith took two viruses, one of which came from VicodinES, and
    combined them with another virus to create Melissa, she said.
    ``They (the Black Hat programmers) are looking for someone to blame,''
    said Delong. They resent the treatment VicodinES supposedly received at
    the hands of the media, and they're rallying around their own. They said
    he is a really nice guy.''
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