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04 May 2004

Sophos: "Sasser author is a common criminal". Microsoft calls in the FBI as worm spreads

Microsoft is working with law enforcement agencies investigating the Sasser outbreak
Microsoft is working with law enforcement agencies investigating the Sasser outbreak

Microsoft has announced that it is working closely with law enforcement agencies, including the Northwest CyberCrime Taskforce (a joint effort between the FBI and US Secret Service) in an attempt to try and identify those responsible for the widespread Sasser internet worm.

The Sasser worm has spread widely around the world, breaking into innocent computer systems via a critical security hole in Microsoft's operating system software. Once it has infected computers it looks for other vulnerable PCs to infect via the internet, and can disrupt normal computer use.

"The Sasser author is a common criminal," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Just because the crime is being committed via computers doesn't make it any more glamorous or acceptable. The worm is disrupting businesses and home computer users worldwide, stopping them from working and communicating with friends and family. It is in the interests of all computer users that the people who write and distribute viruses are apprehended."

In the past Microsoft has offered substantial rewards for the successful capture and conviction of those responsible for writing viruses, but with no success to date.

"Offering rewards may tempt those in the computer underground to 'spill the beans' and reveal who is responsible for some of these worms. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft offers a reward on this occasion. It makes sense for Microsoft to do all they can to catch those responsible for writing the Sasser worm as they are on the receiving end of negative press regarding the security of their products," continued Cluley.

Individuals with information about the people behind any worm or virus should contact the appropriate computer crime authority in their country. In any of Interpol's 181 member countries people with information about virus writers can contact their Interpol National Central Bureau or Interpol's international website.

In the USA, the FBI or Secret Service can be contacted via any local field office.

In the past virus writers such as David L SmithSimon Vallor and Christopher Pile have been sentenced to prison for their activities.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.