Teenager, Sven Jaschan, who admitted responsibility for the
Sasser and Netsky computer worms which struck hard around the
world, has today received a sentence of one year and nine months on
probation and 30 hours community service - meaning he will walk
free. The four-day trial in Verden, North Germany looked into one
of the biggest internet attacks of its kind.
The verdict is unlikely to be welcomed by many IT administrators
who defend business networks from computer attacks. Last month, a
Sophos survey of almost 1,000 people found 66% believed that a jail
sentence was the most appropriate punishment for writing a
The Sasser internet worm, created by Jaschan, attacked millions
of PCs around the world, while versions of his Netsky email virus
continue to spread - accounting for over 25% of all
virus reports in the first six months of 2005. The Netsky-P
worm, which can pose as
a Harry Potter computer game, is the second most widespread
virus of the year to date.
The Sasser and Netsky worms have caused millions of pounds worth
of damage and disruption to businesses and home users around the
"Even a year after his arrest, it is more likely that you will
be infected by a worm written by Sven Jaschan than any other virus
author," said Graham
Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "However, in
the grand scheme of the virus world, it's the organised crime
gangs, which are increasingly emerging to make stacks of money
through targeted attacks, that should be dealt the harsh sentences
- over and above the dumb teenagers."
Jaschan avoided a custodial sentence because he released all of
his worms before his 18th birthday and has been tried as a junior.
Sophos experts state that if the authorities had arrested Jaschan a
few months later, and he had continued to release his army of
malicious worms, he would have been tried as an adult and faced a
much stiffer punishment.
"Sven Jaschan avoided a jail sentence by the skin of his teeth
because he was arrested within days of his 18th birthday,"
continued Cluley. "In many ways, Sven Jaschan was lucky that the
police caught him when they did. Nevertheless, his name will always
be associated with some of the biggest viruses in the history of
"It's a sad story of how a young man with potential can make the
wrong choices and end up disrupting millions of business and home
computer users around the world," said Cluley. "It's a shame that
someone with such IT skills should turn to writing computer viruses
to increase his self esteem, rather than doing something positive
like developing computer games or an innovative website. Other
young people considering writing malware should learn from Sven
Jaschan's case and realise that the authorities are getting better
than ever at catching virus writers."
Prosecutors charged Jaschan with computer sabotage in September
2004. He pleaded guilty to data manipulation, computer sabotage and
interfering with public corporations.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.