VX Heavens

Library index / VDAT main menu

Interview with Fred Cohen
(Alive Magazine)



There are very few people dealing with computer viruses who have never heard the name Fred Cohen. He is the person who first brought computer viruses to scientific community. Here are some well known formal information:

In 1983, Fred Cohen performed and described the first experiments with computer viruses. He gave the definition of computer virus in his paper "Computer Viruses - Theory and Experiments", originally appearing in IFIPsec 84. To quote this paper:

"We define a computer "virus" as a program that can "infect" other programs by modifying them to include a possibly evolved copy of itself."

Dr Cohen is best known for his pioneering work on computer viruses, the invention of high integrity operating system mechanisms now in widespread use, and automation of protection management functions. He regularly provides consulting services for top management worldwide. During the past 10 years of his research work, Fred Cohen wrote over 60 professional publications and 11 books. He is also a widely sought speaker, averaging over 12 invited talks per year. Dr Cohen's current interests are in the areas of high integrity distributed computing, office automation, information warfare, information theory, artificial life and social aspects of computing.....

The Fred Cohen's formal biography is much, much longer, so let's leave it for some other time. Some less formal information Fred Cohen gave himself, speaking exclusively for "Alive" :


Why did you get interested in computer viruses?

What could you say about your work which is not so commonly known?

What problems did you have in presentation of your work?

Why people still do not understand what do you mean when talking about computer viruses?

What is your concept of beneficial virus?

Why did you get interested in artificial life?

Why did you write "It's alive!"?

Why people are willing to reject the concept of beneficial viruses or artificial life in general?

Do you think that there is anything unethical in claims that beneficial viruses exist?