Virus-writing contests are still a bad idea

There has been a right hoohah in the media and blogosphere about the “Race To Zero” contest being arranged for the next Defcon conference.    In a nutshell, the “Race To Zero” organisers think it’s a good idea to encourage people to create new malware variants in order to test anti-virus products.

The idea of running a virus-writing competition isn’t a new one of course.  In fact, they stretch back at least 15 years.

In 1993, Mark Ludwig, the author of “The Little Black Book of Computer Viruses” and a virus writer himself, publicised what he called the “First International Virus Writing Competition” and urged participants to send in DOS-based functional parasitic viruses.  The one which was the smallest (in other words, took up the least…

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.