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Art Imitates Malware

Or does malware imitate art? Award-winning artist uses malware code to create artistic renditions of Storm, Netsky, and other infamous threats

Netsky is a small cluster of bright greenery, with what looks like a spray of cascading Alfalfa sprouts, and Storm looks like a turquoise coral reef harvested from the sea. These are some of the colorful digital images award-winning Romanian visual artist Alex Dragulescu has created of famous malware types -- using actual code from each of the threats.

No, malware writers haven’t gone all artsy on us, nor has the art world suddenly discovered the inner beauty of a computer virus: This is part of a new marketing campaign by MessageLabs called “Know Your Enemy." MessageLabs had Dragulescu come up with the images.

The artist uses both traditional and new media in his work, and has had his work exhibited all over the world, including in Madrid, Venice, Florence, Rome, Sao Paolo, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Bucharest. He’s known for exploring algorithms, computational models, simulations, and visualizations from data in databases, spam, blogs, and video games.

“For the first time ever, we have developed images that show what the threats look like graphically based on the actual code,” MessageLabs says on its Website. The art is broken into six categories -- viruses, spam, phishing attacks, spyware, malicious links, and Trojans, with two- to three images of different malware samples from each category.

Dragulescu is exhibiting his so-called Malwarez collection, with the pieces commissioned by MessageLabs, in Amsterdam, next week.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • MessageLabs Ltd.
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