Cyphernomicon Top
Cyphernomicon 18.7

Loose Ends and Miscellaneous Topics:
Viruses and Crypto

   18.7.1. "What's the connection between Cypherpunks and viruses?"
           - Like, dewd, it's so kool.
           - Beavis 'n Butthead use PGP (actually, Eric Hughes proposed
              at one point that we suggest a crypto tie-in to the
           - There's only peripheral connection.
           - Viruses can be spread with anonymous remailers, but digital
              signatures can be used to safeguard software. Signed
              software, no mods allowed.
   18.7.2. "What about the "encryption viruses," like KOH?"
           - (A little far afield, but the issue does come up.)
           - Somebody asked about this on sci.crypt and Vesselin
              Bontchev said:  "This topic has been debated to death in
    , when somebody posted KOH, without even a
              warning that it is a virus.....Both viruses indeed use the
              IDEA cipher - the same that is used both by SecureDevice
              and SecureDrive. However, the viruses pose some significant
              threats to the integrity of your data, exactly because of
              their viral replication means.....Also, if you aquire it by
              viral means, you do not get the doumentation and one
              utility, both of which are essential for the proper usage
              of the product - thus proving one more time that its viral
              capabilities are unnecessary and harmful. Also, the virus
              does not come in source, which means that it could have
              some hidden backdoors or simply security flaws, and you
              have no way to check this or to fix them. At last, in some
              cases the virus could destroy valuable information during
              its replication process."
           - "In short - don't use them. You will gain nothing over
              stand-alone encryption programs, and you'll expose your
              integrity to significant risks. Those viruses are
              completely useless
              and even harmful; they have been created with the only
              reason to
              condone the illicit activities of the virus writers, by
              claiming that
              computer viruses can be "useful"." [Vesselin Bontchev,
              sci.crypt, 1994-08-31]
   18.7.3. "What about viruses? Are there any ties to crypto and
            Cypherpunks themes?"
           - No direct link that any of us see clearly. Occasionally a
              virus fan sees the "punks" name and thinks we're involved
              in writing viruses. (Actually, a few folks on the list have
              virus expertise.)
           - Crypto may protect against viruses, by having code signed.
              And the reliance on self-responsibility and self-protection
              is in contrast to the legal approach, which tends not to
              work too well for virus protection (by the covert nature of
              many viruses).
   18.7.4. "What interests do Cypherpunks have in viruses?"
           - Not much, though the topic comes up periodically.
           - Some overlap in the communities involved.
           - And there are some virus methods which use forms of
           - Also, digital signatures on code can be used to ensure that
              code has not been modified since being released by the
              original author.

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