'Stages' author denies malicious intent

Argentine programmer Zulu refutes reponsibility for damage caused by his creation

"Zulu" is an Argentine programmer in his 20s who writes viruses in his spare time. His "works" include the much-publicized Bubble Boy and Monopoly viruses. His latest creation, the virus Stages.Worm, has everyone talking about him again. Although he is not very fond of the press, Zulu agreed to give an exclusive interview under condition of anonymity, to clear up some misunderstandings about what occurred this week.

ZDNet Latin America -- Are you the author of the virus Stages.Worm?

Zulu -- Yes, I am one of the authors. (According to his Web page, the Internet virus was created in collaboration with an American.)

ZDNet Latin America -- What do you think about the repercussions of your latest job?

Zulu -- It surprised me because it had been null until last week. It was written 25 days ago and on the fifth day it had already been detected by the anti-virus I tried (AVP and F--Prot). That's why, this time around, I did not see the need to send them (the anti-virus companies) a copy like I did in the previous ones. Since its creation, it (the code) was and it is still available from sites dedicated to the issue.

I think the commotion the virus had in the press is funny. Some headlines read "Veteran Hacker," when I'm neither a veteran nor a hacker. I've only had this hobby for a year. I'm just a programmer who happens to write worms in his spare time, that's it. It's not what they are saying in the news.

ZDNet Latin America -- What's the goal of writing a virus?

Zulu -- It's just a hobby that sometimes can be useful to learn things. The problem is that people are not informed about the issue and believe that a virus is something that destroys information. That's only in some cases, which are a minority, not in all of them.

ZDNet Latin America -- How would you feel if somebody takes one of your viruses, modifies it, and makes it harmful and able to destroy important information?

Zulu -- That can happen with any program. Moreover, to make it harmful it only takes one line of code -- therefore it's not necessary to modify my source.

ZDNet Latin America -- Aren't you afraid the FBI might go after you?

Zulu -- Why would they prosecute somebody who hasn't done anything illegal according to the laws of his country of origin and of the United States? The sites that offer the worm do not lie when they say it is a program. The one who downloads it knows what he is getting. I'm not fooling anybody. The page even has removers.

Just because somebody can use something for ends that are suspect, you are going to be limiting people's freedom. The ones who are interested in the issue have the right to exchange their ideas.

The author cannot be responsible for what other people do with the worm. Anyway, it's not common for somebody out there to spread a virus I create. I just saw it a couple of times, but a lot of people have downloaded it.

ZDNet Latin America -- What do you think about the ones that write harmful viruses?

Zulu -- I just don't agree with them. I even got infected myself, a long time ago. I didn't like it and I don't think that anybody would like to have his information destroyed.

ZDNet Latin America -- What are your next "projects"?

Zulu -- I really don't know. Right now I don't have time to do anything. But I always try to be original in the methods I use (to create my programs).

Take me to the Virus Workshop

Take me to Hackers

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