Press Releases

Browse our press release archive

29 Jul 2004

70% of virus activity linked to one man, Sophos report reveals

 
Sven Jaschan has confessed to writing the Sasser and Netsky worms, and was arrested following a tip-off to Microsoft

A report published by Sophos, a world leader in protecting businesses against viruses and spam, has revealed that 70% of virus activity in the first half of 2004 can be linked to a German teenager.

Sven Jaschan, 18, is the self-confessed author of the Netsky and Sasser worms which hit internet users hard in the first six months of the year.

Just two of Jaschan's viruses, the infamous Sasser worm and Netsky-P, account for almost 50% of all virus activity seen by Sophos up until the end of June. Counting Jaschan's other released variants of the Netsky worm, the total figure accounts for over 70%.

"For a single German teenager to have such an impact on computer security is simply staggering," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "If one of Jaschan's friends had not informed Microsoft about his identity then the situation may have been even worse."

Jaschan was arrested at his home in the sleepy village of Waffensen, North Germany in early May after a tip-off to Microsoft, but his viruses continue to infect computer users and have an impact.

 
Following his arrest, Sven Jaschan was interviewed and photographed by Stern magazine

"It's like Pandora's box - once released viruses can carry on spreading even if the author has been caught or realises he has done something wrong," explained Graham Cluley. "However, because Jaschan was under 18 at the time he released the viruses it's possible he will escape a stiff sentence if found guilty."

The Sasser worm hit home computer users and companies worldwide, including the South African government, Taiwan's national post office, and the UK's coastguard service.

Sophos believes that it is possible that some of Jaschan's fellow college students may still be charged in connection with assisting him in the writing and distribution of the viruses.

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.