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Interview with Cicatrix for Slam

Virtual Daemon

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Well, everybody knows you... :) But for those who don't, give us a description of who you are...

Well like most of us I think I'm just your regular run-of-the-mill average guy who happens to 'dig' computer viruses.

Why did you choose the handle "Cicatrix"? Does it mean something?

In my normal day-to-day job I happen to sometimes use a handle as well. Cicatrix is the Latin translation/equivalent.

What was your first computer related experience?

My first experience must have been around 1983 when I saw some 10-12 year old kid do magic with a computer keyboard. I decided that what a 10-12 year old kid could do I could better so I bought my first computer (Acorn Electron with a cassette player for storage) and started fooling around programming simple stuff in BASIC.

What was your first virus related experience?

It must have been the late '80's. I'd often heard about this magical thing called a computer virus but I had never encountered one. Having moved to an IBM compatible computer (8088) I was using quite a lot of pirated software and I used McAfee as a virus scanner. Then one day when I decided to scan a diskette which I did not expect to have a virus (it came from a reputable source) I found the Cascade virus.

You are a very big (if not the biggest) virus collector. Why did you choosed to be a virus collector in the first place?

I certainly don't consider myself the biggest virus collector. Guys like Falcon and Poltergeist (WCIVR) and Omega (Arrested Development) are in a league of their own. And of course the biggest virus collectors are the AV software producers.

Initially it started out as something not everyone did or have. Computer viruses had a certain air of magic about them. As I found out later this was mostly media induced hype. Later on it continued like most hobbies I guess, the more you have the more you want. It was intriguing what some smart people could do to a computer with just a couple of bytes. It was a challenge to get deeper and deeper into the scene, with one virus I got onto a BBS with 200 viruses. Those 200 viruses got me into BBS's with 1000 viruses, etc. etc.

For how long have you been a virus collector?

I started actively collecting somewhere around 1990.

Did you ever feel like your life has changed because of viruses? Do you think that viruses changed you in any way?

Not in a major way. It keeps me behind a keyboard a little longer but that could have happened without any viruses.

Did you ever write a virus?

No. I think I'm not smart enough <G>

Tell us more about the man beside Cicatrix. What does he do, what are his hobbies (beside computer viruses).

Like I said, just a regular guy. I won't get into too much detail, there has to be something left to guess.

I'm married, no kids and I live in Western Europe. For a living I fly and as hobbies besides my computer I read a lot, watch too much television and drive my (fast) car.

What program languages do you know?

BASIC and a passing knowledge of ASM and VB (if that's a language).

What is your favourite programming language?

No favourite.

What is your favourite virus?

No favourite, I don't like products of VCK's though.

Many people are learning the basics assembler and the basics about viruses (overwritting, COM, EXE, etc) with the help of virus construction programs. What do you think about virus construction kits/polymorphic engines?

From a collector's point of view, the more the better <G>. As one interested in viruses I would say that they can help out beginners to start out learning ASM, but most beginners don't have the stamina to apply the stuff they learn and just get stuck with hacks of VCK's products. People who have the intelligence to create their own viruses are better of reading the many tutorials around than using VCK's.

What is your favourite virus construction kit?

No favourite, but Biological Warfare, LAVI and NRLG are OK.

What is your favourite polymorphic engine?

It's a golden oldie, but TPE.

Describe the perfect virus/virus generator/polymorphic engine...

No such thing, just like world peace and a healthy environment.

What is your favourite virus zine?

From an information point of view 40Hex and VLAD are pretty good. The last year or so many E-Zines come with a good information and good looks, e.g. *-Zine and RSA #1

What do you think about destructive viruses?

From a collector's point of view I can use them all. From a computer user's point of view there are not a lot of destructive viruses I respect. I would differentiate between destructive viruses created through ingenious programming skills and those viruses that 'just' format HD's. The latter are just replicating Trojan horses and created for destructive purposes only.

The former might still have destructive results but are created through original and innovative programming (e.g. One Half).

What do you think about AV? [Tricky question, huh? ;)]

A must for the business and home computer users.

What is your favourite AV program?

I use a combination of F-Prot, AVP and TBAV. Lately I've been looking at Dr. Solomon's which has an excellent reputation but I can't get myself to start using it.

What do you think about pirated software?

Part of a vicious circle, unavoidable.

Do you think that a virus can be good? Can it help ppl in some way?

I think that something that happens without the user's consent can not be called 'good' (depending on your definition of 'good'). Most viruses use (abuse) valuable CPU cycles and storage space even when they are not destructive.

What do you think about the ppl who describe virus writers as lonely guys with no life?

Short sighted.

Do any of your friends/parents know that you are collecting computer viruses?

Yes.

What do they think about that?

Most find it weird. "How can you collect something you can not touch or show?" "What use does it have?" I always compare it to a form of stamp collecting.

Which guys do you respect most from the virus scene?

The big names basically, Dark Angel, Dark Avenger, Massud Khafir, Mnemonix, Priest/Little Loc and some more.

Which guys do you disrespect most from the virus scene?

The big ego's.

What about AV ppl (respect/disrespect)?

None really, to tell you the truth I haven't had much contact with any AV ppl. I guess most consider me VX and don't want anything to do with me. Personally I consider myself to be sort of middle-of-the-road, I can appreciate arguments on computer viruses from both sides. I also think there is a basic difference between making computer viruses and know-how available and the active spreading of viruses.

What do you think about laws concerning viruses?

I don't think they will change much, the scene is much too vague to get a legal grasp on anyway.

What was (is) the best virus group in the scene?

Was: Phalcon/Skism, VLAD (if they quit), TridenT

Is: VLAD (if they haven't quit), IR/G (if they haven't quit)

A few are getting better and better: SLAM, SGWW

What was (is) the worst virus group?

There were quite a few that didn't succeed, I won't mention any names.

What do you think about SLAM?

Recent group, getting better and better especially when they can get rid of their "macro virus only" reputation.

Who was/is in your opinion the best virus writer?

Like with so many things there is no 'best'. There were/are quite a few bright minds around in the scene and many ready to start out.

Your VDAT has become quite popular and is probably one of the coolest things that could ever happen to the scene... Tell us something about it...

Although I initially created it for my own use it has sort of grown into a popular reference work for ppl in the VX world. I can't prove it but some ppl in the AV world might also use it.

It has certainly made my handle/person more known in the scene and that always helps when others have things you collect.

Lately it has sort of grown into a challenge to make VDAT better and better, not only for me but also for all that use it. I'm always (daily) looking for new material and ways to improve the final product.

Why did you created VDAT in the first place?

When I started out collecting viruses I downloaded everything I could get that had anything to do with computer viruses. I stored all that material on diskettes but since I wasn't as organized then as I am now I could't find anything when I wanted to read it again so I ended up downloading the stuff again. After a while I was sick and tired of this and I was at that time browsing through VSUM to find something. The whole hypertext idea sort of appealed to me and that is how it all started. It took a while to find a suitable hypertext compiler but after a while that was taken care of.

The first couple of releases were, as with most first tries, pretty lame and incomplete. But it got better and better.

The DOS version was pretty limited in graphics and looks and it was a bitch to create hyperlinks so after a while I started looking for a Windows version.

Initially I couldn't find a suitable compiler but with the rise of HTML I found InfoCourier (http://www.smartcode.com). It allows the use of regular HTML code, which should be good if I ever want to put the whole thing online, and editing the stuff was a lot easier.

Keeping both versions up to date was impossible due to time constraints so in the beginning of this year I chose to discontinue the DOS version much to the sorrow of some Windows haters.

Will you continue to work on VDAT?

As long as I can find time and new information I will continue to improve VDAT. The amount of time between releases might change though.

Any other things you would like to say?

I'd just like to thank everyone that supports my efforts and I hope that they will continue to do so.

Any greetings you would like to send out?

Everyone involved in VX and that includes AV ;-)

Thanks for the interview man... cya around

Sure, any time.

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