Vx Heavens is closed!

Knowledge and Science has facing rough times nowadays. I was thinking that stupidity and intellectual darkness -- motivated by the defense of commercial interests that make sure that our Nation States are full of consumers instead of free, open-minded clever and educated citizens -- were only in Western countries. But this time the situation is worsening even in the Central Europe and especially in Ukraine. Remember that Central Europe and major countries like Russia and Ukraine have been the cradle of many scientific fields: mathematics and computer science among many others. So seeing those countries copying Western world's stupidities gets on my nerves

The last case but surely not the least relates to the prosecution of Herm1t by the Budennovskiy district division of Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Ukraine in Donetsk city (The state layed the charges against him based on the article 361-1 of Ukrainian criminal code) . Anyone -- academics, hackers, IT and security experts -- working in the field of computer security and especially in computer virology knows -- or at least should -- Herm1t and his wonderful website Vx Heavens. This website is now closed until further notice (until all charges against Herm1t are cleared).

For nearly two decades this tremendous website is collecting all samples, data, documentation… related to computer virology and thus in an absolutely non commercial -- which is rare enough in computer security to be worth stressing on --, safe -- no data could be executed by mistake, all technical precautions being taken in a very responsible and professional way -- and above all in a very ethical way.

Herm1t has worked like a patient copyist monk during the middle ages, by preserving data from the intellectual darkness for the benefit of knowledge. Hundreds of scientific/academic publications in top-ranking international conferences and research journals have been written thanks to this website and many computer security teams could not have made significant progresses in anti-malware techniques without it. Thousands of website are referencing Herm1t's website worldwide. All computer experts/academics, hackers we owe very much to Herm1t and we all have a debt to him. For me, among many other reasons, Vx Heavens is a wonderful scientific treasure:

  • In 2003, he released the wonderful thesis of Jurgen Kraus (1980, University of Darmstadt) that everyone thought to be lost. Herm1t, by some miracle, found the last copy and made it public. Thanks to him we could translate it from the German for the whole community.

  • This website is the only free, non commercial initiative to enable free research on computer viruses. Without VxHeavens, research on computer viruses would be the monopoly of the AV community whose dream is to make us consumers without rights and brain. Just buy our products, do not think and shut up.

Why Herm1t has been prosecuted? Well things are not clear. This website -- which exists for nearly two decades while the justice of Ukraine was not taking any care of it -- suddenly has attracted attention of the MIA in Ukraine. It is very likely that this a blind side effect or collateral damage of the Dragnet Operation in Ukraine. I cannot imagine other explanation. Ukrainian government is not stupid. Unless some Western/Russian commercial interests like the AV community made pressure against this website.

It is a well-known fact that since two years the AV community is totally unable to fight against malware efficiently. The technical model chosen since many years to promote an evil business model has failed. Another well-known idea is that Ukraine would be some sort of playground for US and Russian confrontation. I hope that the Ukraine government is intelligent and clever enough not to be the toy of such hideous intrigues. I hope that I am totally mistaken and that is finally just a mistake that is about to be solved very soon. Because the academic and technical world needs Vx Heavens and Herm1t's wonderful work.

Thats is why I call all people -- PhD students, professors, IT experts... -- concerned with this case, who want to protect freedom for knowledge and Science to help and support Herm1t. How to do that:

  • write a letter of support explaining that Herm1t project is scientifically critical, non commercial and managed in a very responsible and ethical way. The letter must contain the text "letter issued to be presented to law enforcement officials" and the header must be to Mr V. V. Filipov, Head of Budennovsky Division of MIA of Ukraine in Donetsk. Sign it, scan it and email it to herm1t herm1t.vx@gmail.com. Here is my own letter as an example.

  • Make as buzz as possible to support Herm1t worldwide

We all have to save the private Herm1t. Just because freedom and knowledge must be protected at any time and everywhere. With the closing of Herm1t's website, another library of Alexandria has just burnt.

Eric Filiol