University Defends Virus-Writing Class

Safeguards will prevent malicious software from causing problems on the Internet, the school says. Despite harsh criticism from some security professionals, the University of Calgary isn’t backing down from its plan to have students develop viruses and malicious software as part of a course. The university says its “Computer Virus and Malware” course will take place this fall.

“After consideration of all the facts, the University of Calgary’s Department of Computer Science will continue to offer the ‘Computer Virus and Malware’ course as originally planned,” wrote Dan Seneker, coordinator of community relations, faculty of science, for the university, in an E-mail to InformationWeek. Besides defending its decision to go ahead with the course, the university also outlined safeguards it will put in place so the viruses written by students in the lab don’t end up wreaking havoc on the Internet. “Is there another way to teach about stopping viruses without providing adequate knowledge so that the students could write a virus? The answer is simple: No. Anyone who claims they can fight a virus but could not write one is either uninformed or trying to mislead for other reasons,” the statement reads. Full Story

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