Happy Birthday Virus Bulletin Conference, you’re 30 years old!

The annual Virus Bulletin International Conference has been running since 1991 and is one of the annual highlights in the calendar of events for IT security experts. Eddy Willems attended the Virus Bulletin Conference for the first time 25 years ago and fondly remembers the beginnings.

Virus Bulletin came into my life after my first malware incident with the AIDS information floppy December in 1989, the first ransomware. (more at ‘The Story of My Life’ at our blog) Back then there were not a lot of resources about malware and after the incident I was looking around to find more relevant information everywhere in the world. Do know that there was no real internet yet and the only resources were a couple of BBS’es( Bulletin board Systems). So around Christmas time 1989 I found out that there was an interesting new publication called ‘Virus Bulletin Magazine’. So I started to read a sample of the magazine and started a (n expensive) subscription very soon afterwards. At that time it became one of my first malware resources.

However VB (called „VB“ for short) magazine was much more than just a magazine. When I heard that Virus Bulletin Magazine was planning their first conference in 1991 in Jersey, Channel Islands, I started planning to possibly attend this event as I was seriously interested in it. Unfortunately there was another constitutional conference going on around that same date near Brussels. So I chose the EICAR conference at that time as it was closer to my house. Due to conflicts in my agenda I couldn’t attend the next 4 Virus Bulletin conferences. That all changed when I created my old website back in 1995 with some links to a couple of other security related websites. At that moment I thought it was time to finally attend the event I always wanted to go to.

Old website Eddy Willems (WAVCi.com – 1999) by archive.org My first one

In 1996, the company I was working for let me go to my first Virus Bulletin conference in Brighton, UK.  It started on a Wednesday evening with a chance to meet delegates and speakers at the cocktail reception in the hotel’s lounge. Needless to say that the reception provided a springboard to a long evening with a very nice meal at a local restaurant. It seems my website became my entrance to open a chat with most of the experts that time. I still remember that I talked to a range of people which I’ve only met before via Bulletin Boards or through my website. Some of them told me that my website was one of the only resources on the web about malware during those years.  That first evening was also important to me as I still remember very well that I got a serious job offer which brought me afterwards inside the security industry even more.

There were different streams with a technical, intermediate and corporate stream. I still remember some brilliant talks from Paul Ducklin, Vesselin Bontchev (who overrun his time-slot seriously) and Righard Zwienenberg. I also remember the Gala Dinner very well as it was a real Gala Dinner in every aspect with formal evening wear and entertaining table magicians

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