On virus writers

Tuesday, 13 May 2003, 8:06 AM EST

Nowhere Man, please listen, the recording industry has a job for you. The pay is good, the work easy and exciting, ripe with opportunity for someone creatively adept at clandestine dirty tricks.

Nowhere Man was an American virus-writer -- vintage 1992 -- who "invented" the Virus Creation Lab, one of the first widely-distributed programs to automate the production of malicious software. It was full of smirking computer hotfoots, none difficult for the anti-virus industry to counter, but ideal for turning a cyberspatial tenderfoot's afternoon into a hair-pulling good time.

Conceptually, it was perfect for a recording industry "exploring options," as the New York Times obliquely put it last week, for "overwhelming [music] distribution networks with potentially malicious programs that masquerade as music files."

Included with the Virus Creation Lab were the Nowhere Utilities, a set of "tools" to be used in plaguing software pirates, the feeble-minded, people in the wrong place at the wrong time and the avaricious with the electronic equivalent of free poisoned chocolate candies.

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