Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 3/03/2004Adding insult to injury ain't in it as the battle of the virus writers gets personal. Now, every variant of Bagle, Netsky and MyDoom that flits past on the network contains a coded message for the competition.

Wednesday 3/03/2004
Adding insult to injury ain't in it as the battle of the virus writers gets personal. Now, every variant of Bagle, Netsky and MyDoom that flits past on the network contains a coded message for the competition. Bagle.J had this little billet-doux hidden away:"Hey, NetSky, f--ck off you bitch, don't ruine our bussiness, wanna start a war?" (sorry for the censorship, but you might be reading this before the Diary's 9 p.m. watershed. Print it out and fill in the missing 'u' , if you promise not to read it until it's safe).

At first, I was -- as all right--thinking people are -- horrified by this new vandalism. How dare they use our precious data as their personal playground, to hurl insults at each other in this way?

But think again: it's not the most efficient of communications channels, but it's cheaper than text messaging. It's also wonderfully anonymous. The virus writers could be rehabilitated and the whole business sanitised if they concentrated on this rather than the more destructive side of their hobby. A virus could pop up on your screen, deliver a random note and politely ask for your thoughts on the matter -- to be delivered to some other hapless punter further down the line. It'd be a bit like putting a message in a bottle and chucking it over the stern.

Then there's the viral marketing aspect. Big money available for this from the right people, especially those with nothing to lose -- like tobacco companies, or politicians.

I think the virus writers have stumbled upon something