Shrink-Wrap Licences For Trojans

Written May 8. 2000, at 23:19 GMT.

Everyone raise their hand if they think Microsoft should be held, at least partially, liable for the damage caused by trojans such as ILOVEYOU and the legendary "Melissa", that take advantage of security gaps in Microsoft products...

It just occurred to me how to set a trojan-horse program free and get away with it....

...just write a program similar to the ILOVEYOU virus and have it prompt the user (read: victim) with a "Software Licence Agreement" disclaiming the author of any liability for any and all direct or indirect harm caused by running the (trojan) program - the software being as is.

If the users click "I Accept" (who ever reads those agreements anyway?) the program cheerfully runs amok on the victim's (read: user's) computer and then spreads itself over the net via M$ Outlook.

The licence agreement dialog-box would probably slow the spread of the Trojan down by - say - half, but at least the author would be free of any liablilty - at least in the US.

What if the trojan's licence agreement would, furthermore, include a clause advicing the user/victim to view the source code of the script to read detailed description of its functionality?? ("// If run this program KILLS your computer.")

As this idea is just something I pulled out of my ass minutes ago (as an argument in a discussion with a collegue) there may well be some major glitches found. Still, try comparing this idea with the actual shrink-wrap licence terms offered by many American software companies, including Microsoft.

From the "DELL Software Licence Agreement:

"In no event shall Dell or its suppliers be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of business profits, business interruption, loss of business information, or other pecuniary loss) arising out of use or inability to use the software, even if adviced of the possibility of such damages."

These licence terms may not hold in all jurisdictions (as noted later in the Dell licence), but still there are actual cases where they do hold in court!

...

Disclaimer for stupid people: I do not write viruses. I am not a lawyer. I am not an international terrorist either. And I have no idea where Elvis is, or if he is really alive.


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