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Interview with herm1t

Perforin
DarK CodeZ #3
December 2010

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Hi can you introduce yourself a bit please?

Heh, I am on my early thirties, married, employed as system administrator on ISP, one of those guys you cannot ever phone directly before reception, and tech support will be completely confused and give up. ;-)

What was the beginning of vx.netlux? Did all this start with a BBS?

Yes, it did. Even before I started my own BBS I collected some viral stuff from BBSes around. I found this ad in the backup:

                                                 Interesting on my Board <---┐
┌--> SoftWAR BBS, *******, UA, (380-***)-******, 2:***/***.0@FidoNet         │
├--> Freq Time: 22:30-7:30 (except zmh), BBS Time: 0:00-4:30                 |
|                                                                            │
└─-─-─-─--─-─-─-─-─-─-─-─-─-─-─-─-─---─┘
  /\   ___ ___    ______  _____                                           ,
 /  \ |   |   |  |      \|     \      "$M$b, b  52 issues  .d$b       b  d
 \ 7 \|   |   | /\   O   \  O   \      M  .$ $     d,db,  .d" $ ,d$b, M d"
  \issues |   |/  \  |\   \      \     $MM$" $M$b, $d`"b .d"  M $" "$ $$"
   \______|_______/__| \  /______/     M     M  "M M,    dM$M$$ M     M"b
  [.virus source/news/techniques.]    d$b    $   $ db    $    $ "$M$b $ "b
  ----------------,--------> Virii Magazines <----------------------------`---
  b   b b   b d  d ,d$b         over 14Mb            also i have the message
  $b  $ $   $ $ d" $      moonbug,crypt,40hex,alive,       base of Pvt.Virii
  M"b M M   M M$"  M$b    arcv, chaos computer,cmvs,    conference there the
  $ "b$ $, ,$ $"b  $      cris,hexfiles, inreal, rrr       messages has been
  d  "b "$M$" b "b "$$b         and other...                stored since '93
  8 issues        `                                download it out and enjoy

vx.netlux is _the_ first place for VXer worldwide. So, what security measures have you took so far?

Who do you think are the most reckless about security? The security people of course. There were holes in the security larger than the ozone one. It were opened for years! And there were no one to exploit them. However there were a few successful hacking attempts that was stopped at early stages. What's next? I got fixed the vulnerabilities, updated the software/configs, reported the incident to the responsible employee (if there was one, not an authorities of course). The routine process.

I prefer to trust people rather than secure myself or (worst case) the others against their will (although there were no leaks of personal information from VX Heavens).

Do you own or support any other project besides vx.netlux?

I am offering webspace and friendly abuse@ to several H/V projects, one day it were 29A, IKX and many others, today EOF-project.net and coru.in, you can always find the exact list of hosted projects on the first page. Sometimes I take part in other projects, but they are "overground" and thus totally unrealated.

What do you think is the best way to publish your code? Old school ezine or a new way like bloggin'?

Look, the zine thing had worked so good because the zines was (and still are) a subject of trade by itself. They would be archived, reviewed and downloaded after the years and years since release, but people do this because they used to, not because the zines has a real advantage over other kinds of media.

It also depends on the goals of the poster: if you wish to receive a technical feedback you better mail your sources (with some comments) to the interested people (both av and vx) or post it to a corresponding forum. There is no difference would it be a zine or a blog. The blog could be archived to offline version and become a zine, a zine may be published online and become a site or a blog. This is only a medium, while the primary thing is content and PR as a second priority - the way to get it over to your readers.

Are there some new ideas which you will have to code someday?

I once said that the scene lacks the ideas, but I had realized since when that it's not true, there are not too much such thing as a completely new ideas - then you go deeeper you will see that someone somewhen somewhere had told or even implemented something similar before. It doesn't mean that there are new ideas at all, but even more deficient property is a passion and ability to implement the particular ideas you already have.

I have a bunch of projects which I am ready to code and some in a long box. The short goals are advanced EPO based on a static and dynamic analysis of executables. At the time I am writing this I have the code opened on a second workspace. The things I am obsessed with, the ones for I which I don't feel myself strong enough is a metamorphic compilers and a new languages which I think would help to express the viral ideas - when I am see a C I am feeling myself like I am trying to clean a square with a toothbrush, it's better than building a wooden house with a nail file (I mean the assembly of course), but it's still hard to talk about the high math and poetry on basic english. And even basic english is sometimes more suitable to describe the algorithms (with a major drawback that it cannot be compiled directly into the code).

What do we have used to? A VCKs with hardcoded behaviour and unreadable output, a blobs of "engines" with loosely defined interfaces, fixed calling conventions and such. It's often better to write your own thing than to analyze the ready one. To the contrary I think about meta authoring tools which would allow you to construct your own language an when use it. An environment full of basic blocks and a flexible set of ways in which you can link them together and adopt 'em to your goals.

Why is 2/3 of all VX board using punBB o.O lol

You mean EOF and VX Heavens? What's the third? I like punBB cause it has less bells and whistles. Sometime ago I started to write my own board software, but this was so boring that I abandoned the project in nearly complete state. The programming have a look of drug usage, you'll have to increase a dose to get the same fun. (Btw, I'm not using) I am envious for the God's fools who can write batch overwriters or trivial worms for decades, who could feel satisfied by looking to his name posted in the news. Someday I will write my best virus and will have to quit.

Do you think that Microsoft did a good job with Windows 7?

Dunno. Need to ask someone. I am not using Windows. I have several Windows servers to which I occasionally logging in, when I am starring around with an amazement and log off to my unices silent and confused.

Look, there are many things I could deal with. I am not afraid of korean switches with firmware written by write-for-food freelancers, I could spend hours trying to find something usefull in a shells of shitty VoIP or modem boxes cunningly hidden behind good-looking, but powerless web-interfaces, I can bravely run debugger over gigabytes of a messy proprietary bugware, but Windows? Windows? No never no more! :-)

Are the antivirus guys still hunting you for publishing this big amount of malware?

No, they don't. Now they are sending advertisement offers. Either the generations had changed or the buzz from the busts is now less attractive, because the viruses is no longer a technological marvel (in a media perception), but this is no longer an issue. They have not a single chance to stop the dissemination of information (they declared it as a goal, what a poor rationalization!). And if there were someone who seriously thought that they could, he or she must admit that they completely failed. Now we all should think about what to do with all that unbelievable amounts of data. It owherwhelms us. It's far beyond any resources which could be used by any single company. And all that buzzwords like "cloud computing" will not help. Before, they thought that a neural networks and wide use of automation could replace an experts and failed. It's just a problem escalation. You cannot replace the human with a program, if you cannot solve the problem by yourself. So they get back to their scan strings and sales reports. May be, we VXers will invent the programs which in turn will build the programs which will build the perfect virus of all times. But that's an escalation again. ;-)

Do you use any social network?

I am exporting site news to facebook and twitter and have personal accounts on russian clone of facebook (this can not be found) there I communicating with the people whom I knew IRL and blog account at http://lj.rossia.org/users/herm1t/ there I am posting viral stuff and site related issues.

If yes, have you ever abused it? :-P

Other way around, when my blog provider suffered from DDoS I tried to help administration to withstand it. :-)

I have enough skills in hacking and malware to grab a thousands of accounts, ranging from social networks to banks, corp and gov networks. Frankly, I already did. But the only thing which I didn't knew is how to use it without loosing an asset which is very important to me - the self-esteem. (I'll do an exception for an itsec and hackers - if they claim that they could protect or hack someone, they must be ready for intrusion). I am even thinking about the service that would help people to return their stolen online property, such as mails or social network accounts :-)

I will repeat over and over again - all kinds of so-called hi-tech crimes are exactly the same as IRL ones. It doesn't matter would you steal e-money or a wallet from a pocket. Pickpocketing or a lock picking are also interesting aspects of technology, but that would be a pure excuse in the court.

The technology is no neccessary inherently bad, it's all about how to use it.

What do you think about those guys who are selling creation-kits to random people?

This is not a problem, but I don't see any reasons to support them either. Usually, this kits produce a garbage that cannot be used. And what do you mean by "random people"? I missed something and some agency providing certificates "authorized VCK user"? May I get one? And what kind of VCK? "Traditional" ones or the stuff like tuning/morphing services for a trojans? As for the latter the authors and users of this things will end up in prison. I wouldn't be upset about it.

What is your favorite virus or worm? Why?

I dont' have any.

Was there ever a worm outbreak which you were affected by?

No.

Is there a programming language which you love? Why?

C. It's the reasonable tradeoff between expressionness and low-level stuff which is required for viruses to operate. However, I'm still insisting (though this assertions is not backed up by any code) that every complex task (the modern viruses already reached the sufficient level of complexity) would require its own language(s), the programming is not like solving the puzzle, connecting API calls or an assembly blocks together, but using the more effective (and usually more complex) data and code structures.

Is there a programming language which you hate? Why?

I don't think that any language would deserve a hate. They all have their purpose, it's not a fail in the language' design if it can hardly fit or doesn't fit at all to your purposes. However, from the languages I am using I don't like Perl. :-)

What would be a nice payload?

No payload at all. I am more interested in virus functionality rather than non-technical descriptions in the <av vendor that you like here> "encyclopedy" or user screams: "I saw a nasty picture/stupid message/heard a terrible sound, Virus! Virus! We all will die in pain!" I even not interested in the spreading, since I knew better than anyone the properties of my viruses, I could predict how they would spread. There is no need to actually do that, no buzz, pure code.

Which OS are you running?

Linux. RHEL/CentOS, Gentoo (hope I'll get rid of it soon).

Have you ever met a virus writer in rl?

I met several people who wrote viruses, not connected to the scene and some ex'es who rocked in nineties. What after all we could talk about? Draw the code snippets on the napkins? Have a drink? BTW, if anyone would like to commit a hi-tech crime in Crimea or tease a white bear on russian streets we could meet and have a drink anyway.

Do you think that the best time of VX is over?

I'll count the moments. The viruses has lost its novelty, all that glamorous taint of hacker movies. There will be no more roly-poly Solomons featuring a travesty of Churchil with all that "toil and blood of anti-virus researchers", no more "five millions of infected computers", no more rock stars like Dark Avenger brought into rotation by Bontchev and Gordon and other av puppies, no more "data snatchers from outer space" and mass panic induced and fueled by the media, no more witch hunt, shutted servers, unfounded detensions.

It's the end of twisted image of ours in the mass culture and the beginning of the true research and better and clever code. The "scene" was the means of communication, the valuable thing is communication not its means. When I am recollecting the 2400/NONE modem connections, endless bragging and trolling in the FIDO I don't feel that it's worth to keep. It is a chance for all of us to prove that all that bulshit about "freedom", "technology" and "knowledge" is really worth. Now you are free from the obtrusive attention of media, law, av and have an unbelivable amount of information, so go on!

Do you want to greet someone?

The exhaustive list would be too long, so I just wish to greet all the people who still active. And I should say to those who remains silent, but still interested in the viruses and related topics - step out of the shade!

-- herm1t / VX Heavens

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