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25 Sep 2007

Jailed Panda worm author offered job by one of his victims

"Now you've infected us, would you like a job?"

Experts at IT security and control firm Sophos have reacted with bewilderment at news that a jailed virus writer has been offered a job - by one of the companies he succeeded in infecting.

According to Chinese media reports, 25-year-old Li Jun, who was sentenced to four years in prison this week for profiting from the worm he created, has been offered a job paying a million yuan ($133,155) salary. The offer to become the technology director of Jushu Technology, a firm based in Hangzhou City, comes despite the firm being itself a victim of the worm.

Li Jun wrote the Fujacks worm (also known as Worm.Whboy) which made headlines earlier this year because it converted icons of infected programs into a picture of a panda burning joss-sticks as it stole usernames and passwords from online games players

According to Wang Wanxiong, Li's lawyer, approximately ten companies have offered jobs to the cybercriminal whom they regard as a "precious genius."

Fujacks changes icons of infected programs to a picture of a panda holding joss-sticks

The Fujacks worm changed icons of infected programs to a picture of a panda holding joss-sticks, and stole information from users of the QQ instant messaging program.

"It's important that the IT community does not send out a message that writing viruses or worms is cool, or a fast track into employment," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Li Jun broke the law and infected innocent people's computers and websites, causing financial damage. To reward his criminal act, infamy and bad behavior with a job offer in the IT industry seems frankly perverse."

Earlier this year, Sophos advised computer users to think carefully about how they remedy virus infections, following news that the Chinese police were planning to release a clean-up program written by Li Jun.

"You would have had to have been crazy to rely upon a tool written by the worm's author to clean-up an infection he created in the first place," continued Cluley. "Virus writers have proven themselves to be untrustworthy and having a weak sense of morals - otherwise they wouldn't release their malware in the first place."

Li Jun is not the first malware writer to have gained career progression from the viruses he has written.

In 2001, the mayor of the town of Sneek in the Netherlands suggested that resident Jan de Wit, who wrote the Anna Kournikova worm, should be considered for employment in the town's IT department. Three years ago, Sven Jaschan, who authored the widespread Netsky and Sasser worms, caused outrage in the IT community when he was hired by a German security firm.

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can control network access and defend against the threats of spam, hackers, spyware and 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.