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Mr. Washburn’s Explanation

Edward Wilding
Virus Bulletin, April 1991, p. 21
ISSN 0956-9979
April 1991

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The existence of numerous ‘Lab’ viruses (code written for experimental purposes to ‘assist’ the development of anti-virus software) presents both technical and ethical dilemmas to anti-virus investigators. Mark Washburn’s ‘experimental’ viruses, which are reported in this month’s edition, present particular difficulties as the programs do not appear to have been written with malicious intent. The publication or open discussion of the encryption methods employed would be unwise because these viruses effectively invalidate the hexadecimal search pattern as a reliable means to detection. Worse still, his initial methods were made available in the public domain which accounts for the ‘hacked’ Casper virus which VB reported in January 1991 (p. 24). In view of our intention to report his activities, it was decided that Mr. Washburn should have the opportunity to explain himself; with this in mind a letter was sent to him at his address in the United States.

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