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27 Sep 2001

Kournikova virus author sentenced


A Dutch court today sentenced the writer of the Anna Kournikova virus. Jan de Wit, aka OnTheFly, has been given the choice of 150 hours community service or 75 days in jail for unleashing the virus. A CD-ROM, believed to contain 1000s of viruses, will not be returned to him. Following this light sentence, Sophos is calling for the authorities to take cybercrime more seriously and for more businesses to come forward to report infections.

The Anna Kournikova worm was released in February of this year. Within a few hours of its distribution anti-virus vendors had received thousands of reports; in February more than 1 in 3 calls to Sophos's support team concerned the Kournikova virus.

However at the trial, heard in the Netherlands today, US investigators were only able to list 55 incidents of infection, causing just 166,827 dollars worth of damage. This lack of proven damage led to the meagre sentencing.

"Viruses such as Kournikova can cause a great deal of damage yet businesses are ashamed to report their infections," said Peter Cooper, UK support manager at Sophos Anti-Virus. "Businesses need to take a two-pronged stance against viruses: improve protection on their systems and be prepared to take action against the authors of malicious code."

"This virus was written by a Dutch youngster, but it had far reaching effects on businesses across the world," continued Cooper. "The authorities need to recognise the damaging effects of virus writing and work together to stamp it out."

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