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14 May 2004

German police feared Agobot suspect would abscond, Sophos reports on latest developments in malware case

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Sophos customers are protected against the Agobot worm

Police who arrested a 21-year-old man in Germany in connection with a malicious computer program called Agobot feared that the suspect might flee the country.

Ullrich Heffner, a police spokesman in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, told the media that the man had been held following his arrest because of fears that he might leave the country. The man, who has been named only as "Axel G" in local reports, has now been released from custody today but was required to surrender his identity papers and must report regularly to police.

Police in Germany arrested the man on Friday 7 May and charged him under the country's computer crime laws for attacks on computers in the UK, USA and Germany linked to the Agobot worm (also known as Phatbot). Five other men were also charged, but were not taken into custody.

Information supplied in recent weeks by the FBI are believed to have lead to the German police searching the suspect's house and the seizure of computers.

Email messages from the suspect examined by the authorities indicated that he planned to leave Germany to avoid military service - prompting the police to keep him behind bars for the last week.

"The German police appear to be making significant progress in fighting computer crime - arresting suspects across the country in connection with both the Agobot and Sasser outbreaks," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "All those members of the computer underground involved in writing Trojan horses, viruses and worms should think very hard about the consequences if they are caught."

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