Dr Jan Hruska, CEO of Sophos, one of the world's leading developers of anti-virus software, sent out a strong message today to students considering getting involved in virus writing.
"Don't bother applying for a job at Sophos if you have written viruses because you will be turned away," said Dr Jan Hruska, joint CEO of Sophos Anti-Virus. "You are of no use to us. The skills required to write good anti-virus software are far removed from those needed to write a virus. With 80,000 viruses in existence there can be no excuse for teaching students on how to create more."
Hruska was reacting to the news that the University of Calgary in Canada has confirmed it will be running a virus writing course for students later this year.
"The university's justification for this course is entirely misguided," continued Hruska. "There is no need to make code self-replicating to test new vulnerabilities or features which could appear in future viruses. The essential component that makes it a virus - self-replication - can be left out. We hope the university comes to its senses quickly."
Sophos stresses that it does not have an issue with people wishing to study computer security or the techniques which viruses and malicious software can use. However, it does not believe that writing new viruses is a useful way to learn more about the subject.
The University of Calgary has so far declined to comment on whether it believes it would be financially or legally responsible if any of the viruses written on its course were to break out and infect innocent users.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.