03.29.14

This old book on computer viruses is awesome truth! You’ll be delighted and laugh as you read! And then you won’t pay for it!

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 12:50 pm by George Smith

This kind of motivation was a far cry from the old hacker pseudo-ethic, “Information wants to be free.” It was true that contemporary hackers tended to repeat this slogan over and over in their underground manuals. But in practice, it was little more than a convenient euphemism, eyewash that obscured the underlying bedrock of hacker belief, which was: “Your information is mine for free. But everything I can grab is secret unless you have something I want which can’t be free-loaded, stolen or found somewhere else.”The Virus Creation Labs, 1994

Yesterday I was interviewed by a television producer/journalist in the process of making a documentary on the old computer underground of computer virus writing and spreading. It’s going to be for television content made for showing on Xboxes.

At the beginning she mentioned she’d read my book, The Virus Creation Labs, many years ago. She added she’d found an on-line copy, pirated in its entirety to the web and sent the link.

Sure enough, The Virus Creation Labs, now on its 20-year anniversary, is on the web, and obviously not in my domain.

I mentioned the lead box-quote and added I didn’t think much had changed.

In fact, although not as explicitly put, that quote is one of the central tenets of our Culture of Lickspittle. In fact, it’s now practiced in a more corporate, predatory and all-encompassing manner.

The ideology is one of the foundations of disruptive innovation and the so-called sharing economy, one in which the holders of the internet gateways and services get all the share and everyone else gets shit.

In 1994 there was very little money to be made writing malware and selling computer viruses. Today there’s good money to be had, through organized and spot crime and, better still, in the secret warrens of Uncle Sam’s offensive cyberwar operations.

I told the lady I believed you would find the same mentality in America’s professional computer virus-writers and malware bushwhackers as you found in the teenagers, twenty and thirty somethings of the virus underground in 1994.

Back then, they thought they were collectively hot stuff as I’m sure they do at the National Security Agency today.

Not really.

Consider them at length and what they do and after some thought you arrive at the conclusion they must be a professionally mute and unimaginative bunch willing to be anonymously rapacious for a steady job, not even unique. The novelty was gone a decade or more ago.

Write malware for fix or six figures a year. Get a check from the government or the defense contractor providing employees for the operation. Perhaps some of the new malware men and women are so deluded they even think they’re defending freedom with the sharp cutting edges of technology and brain power.

Which is an even worse, as far as warped thinking goes, than the “information wants to be free” thing from decades ago.

I laughed when I told the producer that malware programmers had gone from being part of the shunned computer underground to people recruited by the likes of Keith Alexander of the NSA at hacker conventions.

So they could get a straight job being corporate stooges in the national security megaplex creating untrustworthy networks for, wait for it, freedom and the American way!

After two decades the technology is a light year away from 1994. But not a lot else has changed.

Looking at the big picture, many things have repeated themselves, only globally and in tidal wave volumes. At the root of it, though, the people, the wetware, are much the same. And not nearly as smart as their press would lead one to believe.

My old publisher, Mark Ludwig, as written previously, is dead. He ran off to Central America, specifically Belize, before 2000, convinced the country was eventually going to collapse.

Even in Central America he wasn’t satisfied, apparently switching allegiances between Belize, Nicaragua and back. This post, from nine years ago in Nicaragua, does not paint a particularly flattering picture. (Page down for the pertinent section.)

If my memory remains good, the last royalty check/statement from The Virus Creation Labs came in 1998.

On the web, The Virus Creation Labs is now alleged to be “owned” by something called Geodesies Publishing. My ass.

The tv producer told me how much she liked the book and that someone ought to be interested in a redo.

I laughed again. Mark Ludwig and American Eagle weren’t the right place for it, something that’s now more a matter of amusement than regret.

The audience for American Eagle’s books weren’t readers, at least not in the sense of a reader who would like what I do.

No one bought Ludwig’s books of computer viruses for some quality as a good read or because they liked them. Much of American Eagle’s “readership” was professionally captive, companies and individuals in the computer virus industry and PC security work who felt they had to have them, if only to be able to analyze the malware for countermeasures, if necessary.

From the old post on the black books of computer viruses:

You need a sense of humor to get what I did. Publishing black books on computer viruses was mostly for a totally humorless audience.

You also needed to be more human.


For me, having The Virus Creation Labs pirated is like someone stealing the private small stone or pebble memorial to a long gone but once-loved pet out of your back garden, something that meant something to you but not much, if anything at all, to anyone else. Just because it was possible, rationalized as providing a public service, the furnishing of an educational resource on the original computer underground. (You remember the hogwash from the early days of Napster and music freetardism: The creators would benefit from gaining exposure to a new and appreciative audience they didn’t have and their boats would be lifted thereby.)

You also notice when such things are done, as it is done to many others, too, while someone always goes to the trouble of getting all the details to the last jot and tittle correctly rendered to the web, the liberated-by-technology digital goodies never include backlinks to their creators.

Thank you, innovation. Thank you, progress. Thank you, internet.

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