Contest goal: To lay to rest, once and for all, the myths surrounding the lack of spreading computer virii on the Macintosh OS X operating system.

Today, DVForge, Inc. announced the Mac OS X Virus Prize 2005, where the company is openly challenging all of the computer coders of the world to go after the $25,000 cash prize that they 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.

Are you a clever software geek, bored, looking for a challenge for your immense skills? Would you like world-reaching fame, and, a $25,000 cash prize? Well, here’s your chance for fame and fortune. All you have to do is put a virus into circulation that makes its way onto two totally unprotected Mac OS X computers we have running in Hendersonville, Tennessee. No trick, no hidden barriers… just two open internet connections to two non-firewalled, unmodified, bone-stock OS X 10.3 Panther systems, each tied directly to the ‘net by a T-1 line. According to the PC press, picking up this 25-grand should be child’s play.

“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 in the press release. “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.”

We have designated two G5 Power Mac 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 Power Macs are on a 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 Power Macs 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 Power Macs, 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 Power Macs.

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. has specifically invited the programming staff at Symantec Corporation to participate in their contest by creating and successfully delivering an executable virus to the two contest Power Macs. Should an employee or independent contractor of Symantec corporation win the contest, they will double the prize to $50,000 for that person.

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

Related MacDailyNews articles:
DVForge cancels Mac OS X Virus Prize Contest – March 26, 2005
Motley Fool writer: ‘I’d be surprised if Symantec ever sells a single product to a Mac user again’ – March 24, 2005
Symantec cries wolf with misplaced Mac OS X ‘security’ warning – March 23, 2005
Symantec’s Mac OS X claims dismissed as nonsense, FUD – March 22, 2005
Symantec warns about Mac OS X security threat – March 21, 2005
68,736 Microsoft Windows viruses vs. zero for Apple Mac’s OS X – March 12, 2005
Mac OS X has no viruses; what’s wrong with Windows? – February 11, 2004