I've seen posts pop up every once in a while on virus coding, and I went to flag them, but I didn't see a category under which to do so. After further investigation, I've had no luck finding rules against it, so I presume this means that there are no rules against it (correct me if i'm wrong). So my question is, why is this allowed, is it even legal, and should we allow it?

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    Links to example posts? – yannis Jul 6 '13 at 3:37
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    There will always be people with bad intentions out there. However, there are also people who are good-hearted. Use your judgement. If something is truly malicious, you can flag for moderator attention and use the Other option. Who knows, some people who are asking may actually be the ones who are trying to limit viruses/trojans/malware/etc. – BLaZuRE Jul 6 '13 at 3:40
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    Also, what illegal-activity are you talking about? I've only seen references to RATs. It looks like something that could be easily caught by a firewall. Based on the history of the user on the second link, it doesn't look malicious at all. I'd like to try and build my own RAT to use from anywhere if I weren't so paranoid with security on it. – BLaZuRE Jul 6 '13 at 4:03
  • RAT - Remote Access Trojan, different from remote control software. It's generally designed to gain control without the knowledge of the user. EDIT: Oops, i didn't even know it could mean Remote Administration Tool, sorry – Dylan Katz Jul 6 '13 at 4:22
  • @dylanisawesome1 That's fine. Just for future reference, trojans are not synonymous with viruses. – BLaZuRE Jul 6 '13 at 5:06
  • Flag as 'It doesn't belong here' – Toby Allen Jul 6 '13 at 8:12

Why not, virus coding is knowledge like anything else. It can be used for antiviruses, system core programming etc.

Studying viruses is not bad per se. Releasing them is. Studying security vulnerabilities makes good people fix them, bad people exploit them.

Censoring virus-related topics will not stop virus authors. Those are good enough to go on without stackoverflow.com. It will only decrease knowledge about the viruses, and potentially raising developers for companies like AVG, Avast, etc.

Of course, not those openly illicit. But let's not be naive - a real virus creator would not go here and ask "Hey I want to make a virus." Those who would are most likely not capable of creating it anyway.

  • I would not. Studying viruses are not bad per se. Releasing them is. – Ondra Žižka Jul 6 '13 at 3:39
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    It is not studying viruses, but releasing knowledge about creating viruses can encourage sprouting malicous virus coders – Dylan Katz Jul 6 '13 at 3:41
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    @dylanisawesome1, that's nonsense. Releasing information about HIV doesn't make people go and spread HIV. – Ondra Žižka Jul 6 '13 at 3:42
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    People can't create HIV from knowing about it... – Dylan Katz Jul 6 '13 at 3:42
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    @dylanisawesome1 "knowledge about creating viruses" == programming. – yannis Jul 6 '13 at 3:42
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    Of course, not those openly illicit. But are you so naive to assume that a real virus creator would go here and ask "Hey I want to make a virus." Those who would are most likely not capable of creating it anyway. – Ondra Žižka Jul 6 '13 at 3:43
  • But it can help viruses spread, become more potent and more powerful simply by virus coders using this site to communicate and learn more about their trade. Not that i'm against learning, but this information could become dangerous, do you not agree with this? – Dylan Katz Jul 6 '13 at 3:48
  • @OndraŽižka While yes, most of those who can write such code wouldn't come here (or at least wouldn't be obvious about it in their code samples), everyone has to start somewhere. – Billy Mailman Jul 6 '13 at 3:50
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    Come on. Virus coders have specialized sites, like hysteria.sk. They are not dependent on SO. – Ondra Žižka Jul 6 '13 at 3:51
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    @dylanisawesome1 I am more optimistic than pessimistic. I believe that this information can spread for people who are trying to stop viruses. I believe there are more people who want to learn from exploited programs, fatal mistakes, and how infections occur. People can learn based on history and current trends to make their software better. There will always be people with bad intent, but that's no reason to stop talking about the subject entirely. Let's help people as long as we don't perceive their ill will. – BLaZuRE Jul 6 '13 at 3:51
  • @BLaZuRE Alright, fair enough. – Dylan Katz Jul 6 '13 at 4:23
  • With great power comes great responsibility. You can't really do much about the power (a fence keeps the good guys out, the bad guys go over it), so just hope that people are responsible. – bjb568 Mar 16 '14 at 4:05
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    It will only decrease knowledge about the viruses, and potentially raising developers for companies like AVG, Avast, etc. Oh snap! Oh no you di’n’t. – Synetech Jul 11 '15 at 18:10

If the questions are blatantly obvious things like "How do I make code that replicates itself while hiding from virus scanners?", or "Here's my half-built virus, why isn't it phoning home to the control servers correctly?" there are honestly probably legal issues with us helping people (Insert standard IANAL disclaimer), and the questions really should be held/closed/deleted ASAP.

If the question is more along the lines of "I've been studying XXX virus, and wanted to know how it does YYY", or "How does Antivirus program X detect whether a file is a virus?", then those are perfectly fine. They're about programming, and if nothing else, learning to fight malware requires a working knowledge of techniques and ideas.

  • But will the post be held/closed/deleted just because i report it? – Dylan Katz Jul 6 '13 at 3:46
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    That's up to the mods who see the flag/any high-rep users who wander along. – Billy Mailman Jul 6 '13 at 3:47

Think of it this way, any black-hat can easily do a web-search for actual, live, production code, so security-through-obscurity does nothing.

On the other hand, the tone of the question is important. If it sounds like someone is trying to create something to use, then there’s no sense in facilitating that; you may as well close it and force them to do it the hard way which at worst will delay them, at best cause them to abandon the effort.

If it seems to be a legitimate question from a someone looking for ways to harden systems, then it is perfectly viable.

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