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19 Feb 2001

Kournikova worm author should not be rewarded


The mayor of the Dutch town that spawned the Anna Kournikova computer worm (also known as VBS/SST-A) has reportedly made a tentative job offer to the virus author.

Newspapers this weekend reported that Mayor Sieboldt Hartkamp was pleased with the attention the Kournikova worm had brought the Dutch town of Sneek.

Hartkamp was reported as referring to the Kournikova worm outbreak which infected hundreds of thousands of computers as a "joke", and said of its author: "It is obvious that the young man is very capable and it is in our interest to employ people like him in our information technology department." He went on to say that he would be prepared to offer the author a "serious interview" once his studies were completed.

Mayor Hartkamp's comments parallel many made in the Philippines where the author of the infamous Love Bug became a national celebrity and received many job offers from software companies.

"Virus writers are like firestarters," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "They irresponsibly throw a lighted match into a wooded area without considering the consequences. A forest fire often results. Are these really the kind of people you would want to hire to work in the fire brigade?"

In Taiwan Chen Ing-Hau, the author of the highly damaging W95/CIH-10xx virus, was employed by a software company who astonishingly issued a press release about having headhunted the virus writer.

"Instead of society applauding virus writers, maybe it is time for us to teach youngsters that the damage caused by virus distribution is not only anti-social but a criminal offence in many countries," added Cluley. "It isn't cool and it isn't clever. People who distribute viruses and worms cost companies money and make computing less fun for all of us."

In reality, it appears that like many virus authors the author of the Kournikova worm is not "very capable", having shown little programming knowledge by using a simple virus construction kit to help him create his malware.

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.

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