University to run virus writing course

"I don't see there to be any educational value at all. You don't send somebody out to shoot someone so they understand what happens when somebody gets shot..."

"I don't see there to be any educational value at all. You don't send somebody out to shoot someone so they understand what happens when somebody gets shot..."

While many students would be expelled from their computer science programs for writing a virus, the University of Calgary in Canada plans to make writing such malicious programs a part of the curriculum. Fourth-year students will this autumn be offered a class entitled "Computer Viruses and Malware," in which students will write and test their own viruses. Understandably the move has set off a wave of criticism within the antivirus community. Ken Barker, head of the school's computer science department, contends that such a class is needed to better understand what motivates those who write malicious software. He said: "Somebody who is suggesting we are doing enough [to combat viruses] really has their head in the sand." Plus, school officials note that information on how to write viruses is already easily accessible. But David Perry, global director of education for antivirus software maker Trend Micro, said encouraging people to write more viruses is a bad idea. "Why not have classes in hacking?" Perry said. "Why not have classes in all kinds of malicious computer activity?" Perry rejects the idea that such training could lead to better bug fighters. "I don't see there to be any educational value at all," Perry said. "You don't send somebody out to shoot someone so they understand what happens when somebody gets shot." Email you reaction to this story to editorial@silicon.com