RealNews

Why Schools Should Teach Virus Writing

Idle hands are the devil’s playground, or so the saying goes. This is particularly apt for hackers and virus writers, whose activities are, I believe, born largely out of boredom, not malice. Their decidedly antisocial behavior aside, many virus writers and hackers begin as well-intentioned individuals with no outlet for their intense curiosity about computers and the Internet. I’m not going to defend every hacker out there. Nor will I defend script kiddies, who generally have no programming skills whatsoever. I do, however, think that a fair number of exploits are the result of curious individuals testing their skills and seeing what they can get away with. Some youths commit hacks only as a rite of passage to distinguish themselves from the ranks of other self-taught programmers. Like toddlers, hackers-in-the-making break things and make messes, but often there is no evil intent behind their actions. I believe, with a little effort, we can nudge these youths toward a more productive future. WHAT BROUGHT ALL THIS to mind was the recent news that the University of Calgary plans to offer a course on virus writing, with an eye toward virus prevention. Titled “Computer Viruses and Malware,” the course will require students to write and test their own viruses on a closed network, to ensure that none of their creations spread beyond the classroom. Full Story

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