NTBugTraq goes corporate

Russ Cooper sells his security e-mailing lists to ICSA.net. But he's agreed to stay on as 'Surgeon General' and expand Windows' coverage.

One of the most prominent gathering places for hackers and security experts has been acquired. Russ Cooper, moderator of the popular e-mail list NTBugTraq, is selling the list to ICSA.net.

Cooper, who will stay on as moderator, says the sale will let him broaden the list's focus to attract some attention from average computer users. "It's always been my goal to get to the moms and pops out there," he said.

Long before serious computer security flaws and viruses make headlines in mass media, they are discussed on one of two expert e-mail lists - BugTraq or NTBugTraq. In fact, most computer hackers use those lists to publish their "exploits" to the world. The lists offer the best of both worlds - anonymity and a chance at recognition from like-minded peers.

For security professionals who subscribe, the lists serve as a kind of emergency warning system.

Cooper announced the sale to the 32,000 avid readers on his list Tuesday. While NTBugTraq currently focuses on Microsoft's corporate operating systems, Windows NT and Windows 2000, Cooper said he would now expand it to include Windows 95 and Windows 98 concerns.

"For some time now my goal has been to have the opportunity to raise the level of overall awareness with the average person regarding computer security," he said.

"While corporations are important, we cannot forget the threats posed to home users...and the threats they can pose to corporations."

ICSA.net CEO Adam Joseph said he understands Cooper has spent a lot of time and effort building trust with the computer hackers and the software vendors who participate in the lists, and he pledged not to do anything that would undermine that trust.

"Of primary importance is the fact that Russ will remain effectively the moderator and owner of NTBugTraq," Joseph said. "And he will remain involved to make sure we don't screw it up."

Cooper said he has a four-year employment agreement with ICSA.net and will take on the title of "Surgeon General" to reflect his expanded roles as spokesperson to home computer users.

He told his subscribers that the general function of the mailing list would not change, but with the added resources of ICSA's test computer labs, the information he posted to the list would be more timely and accurate.

"I have more money behind the whole exercise now," he said. He would not discuss terms of the deal, other than to say he received some payment in the acquisition. "The cash amount wasn't an incredible amount but it made me happy."

ICSA.net, which offers security consultant and research data on the effectiveness of antivirus products, said it was attracted to NTBugTraq by the forum's 32,000 participants and the "inside information" they often provide.