the source:

Viruses 101: U of C to teach secrets of cybercrime

CanWest News Service

Monday, May 19, 2003

CALGARY - Developing malicious software -- viruses, worms and Trojan horses -- will soon be part of the program for 16 students at the University of Calgary.

The aim is to delve into the cybercrime mind to understand a problem that causes billions of dollars in damage annually worldwide, says Dan Seneker, with the university's department of computer science.

"It's the first of its kind in Canada," said Seneker, co-ordinator of community relations.

As well as developing their own versions of the I LOVE YOU virus and the BUGBEAR worm, students will study legal, ethical and security issues in the "computer viruses and malware" course.

"It's kind of a touchy subject if the world is losing trillions of dollars a year because of lockdown time or whatever, to say 'Hey, we're going to teach the students how to create new viruses,' " Seneker said.

The intent of the program, devised and to be taught by Dr. John Aycock, is to be proactive in helping industry develop more secure software. Aycock could not be reached for comment.

Computer hacking and viruses took a $1.6-trillion US toll on the world economy in 2000, says a survey by Information Week and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Experts say there are now about 80,000 viruses in cyberspace.

Between 600 and 700 new ones are discovered monthly.

"In order for people in medicine to try to discover a cure for viruses they don't try and discover a cure right away," Seneker said.

"They learn more about the viruses in the first place -- how it mutates, how it's caused.

"That's the approach Dr. Aycock has taken in saying instead of trying to invent all these security features let's learn more about these actual viruses ... and then from there work on security measures."

The course is open to 16 fourth-year students who must work under strict conditions in a secure lab cut off from Internet and cell- phones.

Other security measures to thwart students who may have malicious intent are in the works.

Cybercriminals have become more sophisticated.

"The first official virus was in 1986 that someone was able to trace back to the perpetrators, which were two brothers in Pakistan," Seneker said.

They were easily traced because they embedded their names and address in a virus.

"Nowadays you don't do that because you'll get thrown in jail or the FBI takes you away to their secret laboratory," Seneker said.

"There's always these rumours that when the FBI or CIA find these people that are wreaking havoc with viruses, that they take them to their secret labs and try to turn them into the good guys so that they know how to defeat others.

"For the most part, the guilty are thrill-seekers.

"There's a growing threat of the actual cyberterrorism.

"But they say that only 0.9 per cent, less than one per cent, of the actual cybercriminals out there have the capability or the know-how or the malicious intent to take it one step further."

Calgary Herald
© Copyright 2003 Edmonton Journal
Sounds like fun. Some people have issues with teaching people how to progarm virus but theres always that question that how do you get a good under standing of virus with out being able to program one your self.