Did anti-virus company hire convicted Chinese malware author?

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
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Update: Since the following article was first published, Panda Security has declared that virus writer Li Jun does not and has never worked for the company, and that the Reuters report was incorrect. A statement from the firm says it believes that the confusion has arisen because of a “marketing initiative by a distributor of Panda China where Mr. Li was involved”.

It’s obviously a big relief to hear that the news report was incorrect in saying that Li Jun now works for Panda Security, and we’re happy to clarify the situation here. Thanks to Panda Security for helping us get to the bottom of this issue. In the spirit of openness, the original article now follows..

If you’ve been working in the anti-virus business for any length of time you pretty soon get used to the accusation that anti-virus firms “write all the viruses, don’t they?”

To be fair, it’s normally said in good humour and with a wink – but it’s the kind of joke that riles the researchers who work inside anti-malware labs. The guys and girls who work in SophosLabs, for example, see something like 60,000 new malware samples every single day – aside from the moral issues around the creation of malware there simply isn’t any need for us to write malware.

Historically, anti-virus companies have realised that having a virus writer as an employee is probably not a good idea. Not only have malware authors shown themselves to be of dubious morals, but there are also serious questions that have to be asked as to whether the individual will be trusted by others in the security community…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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