College Classes On Malware Writing Still Piss Off Anti-Virus Firms
from the security-through-obscurity dept
Over five years ago, we wrote about a college that was starting to offer a new computer science class in writing computer viruses. And, of course, various anti-virus companies went ballistic, claiming how dangerous it was. Yet, as we pointed out at the time, anti-virus companies don’t have the greatest track record in actually stopping viruses — so it seemed only reasonable to teach people to better “think like the enemy.” Anyway, it appears not much has changed. Theodp writes in to let us know about an article in Newsweek about a very similar course being taught at Sonoma State University by George Ledin, where students are tasked with creating their own malware.
Once again, various security companies are condemning the technique, even sinking so low as to compare Ledin to A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear technology to North Korea. They even insist they won’t hire his students — which seems particularly short-sighted. As Ledin points out, it appears that this is really more about the security companies wanting to keep the world more scared than they need to be of malware, so as to pretend that they’re the only ones who can solve the “problem” — when the truth is they’re not very effective at it. He complains that anti-virus firms keep their code secret (thank you, DMCA). He points out that if they were willing to open it up, and let lots of folks work on improving it, it would get much, much better. All he’s trying to do is help more people understand the enemy without first having to work at one of those companies that’s been so ineffective in stopping malware — in the hopes that maybe some of his students can actually come up with a better soltuion.