DVForge Cancels Twenty-Five Thousand for Mac Virus


I wrote my original highly critical article at midnight last night Hawaiian Standard Time and at the same time sent a message to the company via their contact form. Having received a response almost immediately from them I was presented with info to persuade me that it was not a big deal. I responded and re-stated my objections to the contest.

Having had some previous communications with the company I am not sure if we had much to do with their decision but they have canceled the contest for that I am proud that they decided to reverse course.

We all make mistakes from time to time, and I can understand a companies frustration in hearing things being stated my major companies about apparent threats to OSX etc. Obviously the track record of Mac’s has been pretty good and their have been few if any major spyware and or major virus attacks.

I commend DVForge for canceling the contest. If they want to challenge the community I have a suggestion.

Recommendation: Give the physical IP’s to a couple of Macs sitting out out in the open with no firewall and standard out of the box condition and let people have a go at those boxes directly. This will result in a greater learning experience for all and should alleviate some of the concerns that I and others that have sent me e-mail today. Make them a honeypot and see how well they stand up to monitored attack to break in and control the box etc.

Tell this company what you think. [DVForge] [Contact]

Retraction Press Release

DVForge Cancels The Mac OS X Virus Prize March 26, 2005 – For Immediate Release

Today, at 12::00 noon Central Time, DVForge, Inc. announces its cancellation of the Mac OS X Virus Prize 2005 that the company announced earlier in the day.

“In response to the statements put forth this past week by Symantec Corporation suggesting that Mac users are at substantial risk to infections from viruses, our company crafted and announced a contest that would have paid a $25,000 prize for the successful creation of such a virus,” said Jack Campbell, DVForge, Inc. CEO, “During the first several hours after making the public announcement, I was contacted by a large number of Mac users and Mac software professionals who shared their thinking with me about the contest. A few of these people are extremely well-regarded experts in the field of Mac OS X security. So, I have taken their advice very seriously, and have made the difficult decision to cancel our contest. I have been convinced that the risk of a virus on the OS X platform is not zero, although it is remarkably close to zero. More importantly, I have been convinced that there may be legality issues stemming from such a contest, beyond those determined by our own legal counsel, prior to announcing the contest.
So, despite my personal distaste for what some companies have done to take advantage of virus fears among the Mac community, and my own inclination to make a bold statement in response to those fears, I have no responsible choice but to retract the contest, effective immediately.”

The Mac OS X Virus Prize contest web page will remain active for the foreseeable future, and will be used to show articles and links that will help Mac users better understand the risk to computer viruses, and the reasonable measures best used to continue enjoying virus-free usage of their Mac OS X computer systems. That web page is located at http://www.dvforge.com/virus.shtml

——–Original PRESS RELEASE————————

DVForge Announces The Mac OS X Virus Prize March 26, 2005 – For Immediate Release

Today, DVForge, Inc. announces the Mac OS X Virus Prize 2005, where our company is openly challenging all of the computer coders of the world to go after the $25,000 cash prize that we are offering to the first person to successfully create and deploy an “in the wild” active virus for the Mac OS X operating system.

For the contest, a ‘virus’ is defined as executable code that attaches itself to a program or file so that it can spread from one computer to another, leaving infections as it travels between computers.

For the contest, an ‘in the wild’ virus is defined as one that is able to spread as a result of normal day-to-day usage onto two or more randomly selected computers that are connected only via the internet.

“Symantec Corporation has recently released information to the press suggesting that they believe that the Mac OS X platform is at substantial risk to a new virus infection, and that the principal reason that OS X presently has zero in-the-wild virii is simply the lack of interest by virus coders, due to the platform’s comparatively small market share,” says DVForge CEO, Jack Campbell, “We recognize that assessment as complete nonsense, and, we have chosen to make a challenge that is interesting enough to grab the attention of any malicious coder… $25,000 worth of interesting. I happen to believe that Apple should be offering this prize. But, since they have not, I will. On behalf of knowledgeable Mac users everywhere, I am putting my money where my mouth is.”

The Contest

We have designated two G5 Powermac computer systems, each running an unmodified retail installation of OS X 10.3 Panther, each located in the Hendersonville, Tennessee area, but located approximately 3-miles away from each other in entirely different facilities. The only network connection between the two systems is the internet. Both Powermacs are in minimum 8 to 12 hour per day, five to seven day per week usage, and run any number of popular Mac software applications. Each uses OS X mail.app as the email client, and Safari as the web browser, with neither machine or its LAN having a firewall in use. Each is connected to the internet through an unencrypted Airport network, to a full T-1 line.

Each day, we will scan both Powermacs for the presence of an OS X native executable virus, using a commercially available virus scanning utility. The day we locate a copy of the same virus running on both Powermacs, that virus is the winner of our contest.

To win the contest, the person coding the virus must submit an email notice to us with a transcript of at least 32 contiguous characters of code included in the virus, a brief description of the functionality and symptoms of the virus, and contact information for contest notification and payment of the $25,000 prize. The prize will be awarded to the person whose 32-character code sample, and functionality and symptoms description match the actual virus detected on the two contest Powermacs.

The Premise

There has been much misinformation publicized recently about a supposed risk to the OS X operating system from virus attacks, with the ‘risk’ supposedly increasing as Mac computer sales are increasing. As a Mac dedicated business, and as a group of long-term Mac users, we know that these warnings are not true, and that there are a number of fundamental safeguards against virus attacks that keep the OS X operating system without its first in-the-wild virus. The ‘small number’ of Macs has nothing to do with the lack of virus incidents. It is the architecture of Apple’s operating system that protects its users from these bugs.

We are operating this contest until midnight July 31, 2005. Should the conditions for winning be met prior to that time, we will immediately award the $25,000 payment to the virus developer who succeeded in cracking the Mac’s inherent immunities.

Prize Doubled For Symantec

DVForge, Inc. specifically invites the programming staff at Symantec Corporation to participate in our contest by creating and successfully delivering an executable virus to the two contest Powermacs. Should an employee or independent contractor of Symantec corporation win the contest, we will double the prize to $50,000 to that person.

Further Information

Complete details on the DVForge Mac OS X Virus Prize 2005 contest can be found at http://www.dvforge.com/virus.shtml .

Tennessee-based DVForge, Inc. is one of today’s fastest growing consumer technology companies, specializing in high-style, high-function products in the computer, audio, pro music, and performance software product sectors. It develops, sells and supports industry-leading consumer technology products under a variety of market specific brands, including MacMice, ProSticks, PodBuddy, JamPlug, and others to launch in the near future.

DVForge, Inc.
83 Industrial Park Drive, Hendersonville TN 37075 615-822-9270 www.dvforge.com

Contest information: Ryan Tews, [email protected], 615-822-9270 Corporate information: Chuck Leonard, [email protected], 615-714-1683 Press release web page: http://www.dvforge.com/press.shtml