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Tuesday,  August 26 12:01 AM EDT

Open Source Community
Developing Their Own Viruses

By Brian Briggs

Helsinki, Finland - Open source developers plan to challenge Microsoft's dominance in the world of viruses by developing their own through the Open Virus Project (OVP), and unlike proprietary Microsoft viruses, the open source versions will infect across all platforms.

Heading the development of the OVP is Jukka Koskelin. He explained, "We took a look at the virus marketspace and realized that Microsoft has over a 95% share of all viruses developed. I don't think the Linux community can be taken seriously if we don't increase our share in that area."

"The viruses we're developing will work cross-platform unlike Microsoft viruses which only work on Windows systems. There are ports to Linux, *BSD, Solaris, and yes, even Windows. We should have a Mac port in a couple of months," Koskelin continued.

The OVP currently has two viruses in beta: "oopsie" and "GPLdaemon." Oopsie installs a spyware checking program, and notifies OVP, so they can inform the user that they're being spied on. GPLdaemon uses spare CPU cycles to check every file on an infected users hard drive bit-by-bit to see if it contains any software that violates the GPL.

The viruses will arrive as .tar.gz attachments and will use automake. Both oopsie and GPLdaemon will need to be compiled and executed by the user for them to be infected. The viruses can use any e-mail program to propagate, and do not require Outlook or Outlook Express.

"We had a lot of arguments on the OVP mailing list about whether to send it out as source code or as an executable, but eventually we decided that source would spread much more rapidly as it would be optimized for each system," said Koskelin. "I know a few programmers outside the project have already created .rpm and .deb packages, however."

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Devon Chee works on viruses in his spare time for the OVP. "I used to do exclusively Windows viruses, but it really wasn't all that challenging," he admitted. "With the cross platform viruses I'm working on, I'm really giving the users a lot of options. They can set the amount of e-mails that it sends out, whether to infect other computers in the same domain and all sorts of other tweaks."

Jared Dietrich has been testing the viruses and told us: "The viruses work great. They sent out a ton of e-mails from my system. I had to walk my mom through the compilation process, but I finally got her infected too. The only problem I've seen is that the Windows port doesn't really work well under WINE."

The Justice Department has started investigations into the virus monopoly by Microsoft.

Special thanks to Nikolaj Borg

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