If anyone has ever wondered what Storm Trojan looks like – as opposed to what it does – then an artist called Alex Dragulescu has come up with the answer: it’s sort of turquoise and pale green with star-like tentacles.

As patronage of the arts goes, this one isn’t quite up there with the Medici’s sponsoring of the Florentine renaissance, but security company MessageLabs has paid him to create a series of images on the malware theme.
Mydoom is even more sinister, like a mutant green sponge with whip-like threads emanating from its core, while IRCBot is like a piece of coral gone wrong.

The images are not arbitrary, but were constructed by visualising from “disassembled code, API calls, memory addresses and subroutines. Their frequency, density and grouping are mapped to the inputs of an algorithm that grows a virtual 3D entity. Therefore the patterns and rhythms found in the data drive the configuration of the artificial organism,” explains Dragulescu.

It’s probably not coincidence that the visual descendants of these images are those of real viruses, created by combining electron-scanning imagery with 3D computer-generated projections.

Dragulescu has been at this genre for some time. His visualisations of spam , for instance, turn into visual form something that would normally be thought of in entirely abstract, non-emotional terms.

Looking at something that is normally unseeable might serve the purpose of making it more real within the terms of popular culture, which some see as having passed by the darker spots of software engineering.

My favourite anti-spam statement is still the spam shredder created by Bill Shackleford.