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20 Sep 2004

Teen responsible for Sasser and Netsky worm attacks hired by German security firm, Sophos reports

Sven Jaschan holds a computer keyboard in front of his face
Sven Jaschan told Stern magazine that the Netsky worm made him a hero in his class.

A German firewall security company is said to have hired the teenager who has admitted responsibility for the Sasser and Netsky worms.

Securepoint, based in Lueneburg, northern Germany, has employed 18-year-old Sven Jaschan and is training him to be a security software programmer. According to a company spokesman, "he has a certain know-how in this field."

"It's very important that the security community does not send out a message that writing viruses or worms is cool, or a route into employment," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos." Jaschan is infamous for his involvement in the Sasser and Netsky worm outbreaks - it might have been less controversial if he had found employment in another part of the IT industry."

Hidden inside some versions of the Netsky worm was a distributed denial-of-service attack against educational websites based in Switzerland, USA, and Germany. Other variants attacked file-sharing websites such as KaZaA. A report published by Sophos in July revealed that 70% of all virus infections in the first six months of 2004 could be linked to Jaschan.

"There can be no doubt that the viruses Jaschan is said to have written were deliberately malicious, attempting to steal computer resources and blast innocent websites off the internet," continued Cluley. "The customers of the firewall security company will no doubt ask for an adequate explanation for his employment - and those who lost money as a result of his worms may wonder when they will be compensated."

Sophos believes that virus writers can be rehabilitated, but that it sends out a dangerous message if former virus writers gain hasty employment in the computer security industry.

Sophos notes that by coincidence a new version of the Sasser worm, W32/Sasser-G, was discovered today.

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.