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How Do Anti-Virus Companies Pick Names?

from the process-is-random dept

Okay, admittedly, this is an almost exact replica of an article posted nearly two years ago, but Wired News is writing about how online viruses and worms get their names. Basically, the answer is that it’s a pretty random process. Anti-virus researchers generally just give it a name. If multiple researchers give the same virus multiple names – well, then that’s just too bad. It generally depends on which name the press picks up on and sticks with. As for how the virus namers come up with the names – that’s pretty random too. Sometimes they have a prepared list. Sometimes they take some element of the virus itself. Sometimes they just pick some random word that they like. Maybe we need a more standardized system, like the way they name Hurricanes (in alphabetical order). Then we could see just how quickly we cycle through the alphabet. On second thought, that might just be too depressing.

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Comments on “How Do Anti-Virus Companies Pick Names?”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

My suggestion is...

Come up with a list of seriously, embarassingly names to use for new viruses.

For example, when I worked as an in-game support person for the MMORPG Anarchy Online we had a character naming policy that stated you couldn’t use names that were offensive, racist, sexist, etc. If people found chararcters with offensive names they would report them to us and we would go to that character and ask them to come up with a new, non-offensive name because we’re going to change your name – now.

If the person took too long or couldn’t think up a name that was non-offensive we would change their name to something from our list of seriously, embarassingly names. The most popular of which was PinkBunnySlippers. Usually within 2 minutes of changing an offensive name to PinkBunnySlippers, the person would message back that they had come up with a name they would much rather have.

If instead of giving viruses strong and powerful names like “Master Blaster”, we gave them names “Small Penis Protaganist”, “Momma’s Boy” or “Desparate for Attention” it might reduce the incentive to become infamous.

Joe Schmoe says:

Re: My suggestion is...

“If instead of giving viruses strong and powerful names like ‘Master Blaster’…”

I so agree, and you so beat me to the punch!

Limp Biz Kit – VBA Worm, infects Office Documents, crashes before causing any real damage.

Tit Mouse – Small trojan, attempts to seek out and delete porn.

The Woodpecker – Hijacks users machine and sends viagra spam.

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