NEW YORK - First the University of Calgary announced plans to offer a class in writing computer viruses and other destructive programs. Then Wired magazine published the code of a virus-like program that caused mass havoc on the Internet this year.

Both developments infuriated virus-fighting companies and illustrated the highstakes dilemma of computer security: Do you keep vulnerabilities secret or spread the knowledge so problems can be remedied faster?

The antivirus industry is squarely in the first camp.

Dave Perry, director of education at Trend Micro, considers the article in Wired detailing the Slammer worm a cheap grab for attention with no educational or ethical justification. He likened it to pornography, saying its publication could loosen the standards of acceptable behavior in the computer world.

Slammer infected more than 75,000 computers within 10 minutes on Jan. 25. It slowed down the Internet worldwide, freezing up major Web sites and even bringing down some ATM systems.

Chris Anderson, Wired’s editor in chief, said the article is a public service that demonstrates the Internet’s ‘‘extraordinary vulnerability to that kind of attack.’’

The code for the worm, whose author has not been identified or caught, has been available online since the attack, but it hasn’t been dissected in a major publication.

Still, even Perry acknowledged that the risk was small that the article could enable someone who was not already an adept programmer to create a new virus.

Slammer itself was based on a flaw in Microsoft code publicized by a researcher months earlier.

Microsoft had issued a patch for the vulnerable software, which runs corporate databases, but many administrators had failed to apply it.

With the Wired article’s line-by-line analysis of how the worm worked, Anderson said he hoped to diminish the knowledge gap between virus-writers and virus-fighters.

‘‘The people who understand them the best tend to be on the releasing side, whereas those who are on the protecting side should understand them the best,’’ he said, echoing the rationale for the Canadian university’s virus-writing class.

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