According to reports in an Israeli newspaper, five teenagers
have been charged in connection with the W32/Goner-A virus which
spread worldwide late last year.
The Ha'aretz newspaper reports that the five were charged at
Haifa District Court with wilfully causing damage to computers
belonging to companies and private individuals around the world,
including the American space agency NASA, by deliberately writing
and spreading a computer virus across the internet.
One of the minors has been charged with writing the Goner virus
(which was nicknamed 'Pentagone'), whilst the others have been
charged with disseminating it. The virus infected thousands around
the world. The indictment also claims that one of the group had
previously written a virus targeting users of internet chat rooms -
but this failed to cause the intended damage.
W32/Goner-A spread via email, arriving with the subject line
'Hi' and carrying an infected attachment called GONE.SCR, posing as
a screensaver. Once activated, the worm spread to all contacts in
the user's Outlook address book, and via internet chat. The
screensaver displayed a message, apparently from the author to his
"pentagone coded by: suid tested by ThE_SKuLL and |satan|
greetings to: TraceWar, k9-unit, stef16, ^Reno. greetings also to
nonick2 out there where ever you are."
"It could be that displaying this message was the key to their
capture," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for
Sophos Anti-Virus. "Virus authors often use 'handles' or nicknames
to hide their true identity. However, these can be valuable clues
for computer crime investigators, acting like virtual
"It's good to see that criminal justice authorities are finally
clamping down on virus writers," continued Cluley. "Hopefully
handing out tougher sentences will make writers think twice about
creating the next virus."
The suspects could face between three and five years in jail if
convicted, said Meir Zohar, head of the police computer crime
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.