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09 May 2004

Mystery surrounds tip-off to Microsoft about Sasser worm culprit, Sophos comments

Sven Jaschan
Sven Jaschan was arrested following a tip-off to Microsoft

Mystery surrounds the identities of those who directed computer crime authorities to the home of Sven Jaschan, the suspected author of the Sasser worm.

Microsoft has revealed that it was contacted by informants who said they had information regarding the creator of the Sasser worm.

While Microsoft had not announced any reward for information about those responsible for writing the Sasser worm, a group of individuals approached the German office of the software giant on Wednesday 5 May and inquired about whether a cash award was available. According to Microsoft spokesman Brad Smith, the group have been offered $250,000 if Jaschan is successfully convicted.

"While Sophos welcomes the arrest of any virus writer, there are key questions to be asked. Who are these people who had information about Sasser's creator? Why are we not being told how they knew him? Are they themselves involved in the computer underground?," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "We believe it is unlikely that one individual was writing and distributing the Sasser and Netsky worms on his own. Until certain questions are answered there will be a large question mark hanging over this case."

Microsoft has issued considerable bounties for information leading to the successful conviction of virus writes in the past. In February this year they offered $250,000 for the capture of the MyDoom worm author, and last year a total of half a million dollars in regard to the Sobig-F and Blaster worms. However, to date these rewards have not been paid as no-one has been convicted.

In the past virus writers such as David L SmithSimon Vallor and Christopher Pile have been sentenced to jail for damage caused by their malicious code. Jaschan, who only turned 18 at the end of April, is likely to be tried as a juvenile and will probably escape a prison sentence if convicted.

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.