In October 1990, the following announcement appeared in a slimline edition of VB: 'A Virus Bulletin conference will take place on 12-13 September 1991. The objectives of the conference are 1) to present factual information about computer viruses, 2) to demonstrate defensive procedures, 3) to discuss probable future virus developments and countermeasures and 4) to attempt to harmonise research efforts.' Twelve years on, the objectives of the VB Conference remain unchanged (although some attendees might advocate the addition of objective number 5: to sample the local tipple and take full advantage of local bar facilities).
Since the inaugural VB conference in 1991, delegate numbers have risen from an initial audience of 150 to the bumper crop of more than 350 at VB2000 in Orlando. This year we have every reason to expect to exceed that number when VB2002 takes to the streets of New Orleans.
Over the years VB's conferences have been eventful to say the least - some of the tales that spring to mind include a suspiciously high number of fire alarms (and a fire), a presentation by an ex-virus writer, delegates under hypnosis, a prominent member of the anti-virus community with his head in a working guillotine [how did that happen? - Ed] and countless jokes and japes (fuelled, I am (un?)reliably informed, by little more than local tap water and the sheer sense of the occasion).
Frivolity aside, VB conferences provide a focus for the AV industry, representing an opportunity for experts in the antivirus arena to share their research interests, discuss methods and technologies and set new standards, as well as meet with - and learn from - those who put their technologies into practice in the real world. Delegates range from dedicated AV researchers to security experts from military organizations and large corporations worldwide.
This year's programme is packed with the proverbial 'something for everyone'. Legal issues concerning the inadvertent transmission of viruses will be covered by Meiring de Villiers of Stanford University, while ex-VB editor Nick FitzGerald focuses on free AV techniques.
Speakers from the corporate sector include IBM's Ed Hahn who will be looking at the evolution of managing viruses in a large corporation, John Alexander of Wells Fargo asking the question 'how squeaky are your wheels?' in a discussion of how the 'health' of a large user population might be measured, and Microsoft's Randy Abrams explaining the corporation's automated virus-scanning system.
Robert Vibert, moderator of the Anti-Virus Information Exchange Network (AVIEN), will provide an update on how far AVIEN has come since it was an idea mooted over cocktails in the bar at VB2000.
On the more technical side, Kurt Natvig will present a follow-up to his VB2001 paper on Sandbox technology, while Sami Rautiainen looks at Linux backdoors and Markus Schmall probes the potential for malicious code on Java 2 ME. Anti-virus testing - a topic bound to result in some lively discussion - comes into the limelight with Andreas Marx's paper which focuses on retrospective testing of AV products. A Panda Software double act will present a paper on attacks on .NET, while VB old hands Eric Chien and Péter Ször discuss blended attacks.
The remaining highlights of the programme are too many to list here; we look forward to presentations of papers by some of the best experts in the field. The full details, including paper abstracts, can be found on the VB website (see http://www.virusbtn.com/conference/).
The Virus Bulletin Conference has an impressive history of memorable entertainment, and it is a well known fact that much of the real, hardcore, cutting-edge 'work' that goes on at any conference is conducted not in meeting rooms, but in those informal 'breakout sessions' that take place in the bar.
This year VB will take full advantage of all the fun and frolics the non-stop party city New Orleans has to offer. Proceedings will kick off with a drinks reception with a difference as we take to the Mississippi on an authentic paddlewheeler. Without wanting to give too much (or anything!) away, it is with confidence that I predict that the Gala dinner will be spectacular and an unmissable event in itself.
Rooms at the Hyatt Regency will be held at a special conference rate until 27 August, so we advise you to register as early as possible. As usual, VB subscribers are entitled to a reduced conference registration rate. All that remains for me to say is I look forward to seeing you all in New Orleans. Laissez les bons temps rouler.