Updated: 22 December 2004
A British teenager has been convicted for distributing the
worm, designed to turn innocent infected computers into compromised
"zombies" under the control of remote hackers.
According to media reports, the 16-year-old youth has had his six
month sentence suspended on probation by the South Cheshire
juvenile court in Crewe, UK. These early media reports suggested
that the gang had sold access to the zombie computer network to
spammers - however, a news story written by John Leyden, a journalist
with The Register, has quoted computer crime sources saying there
was no evidence found of this, and that the real motivation was to
accrue points in an online role-playing-game called Outwar.
The international investigation - which brought together New
Scotland Yard, the USA's FBI, the Technology Crime Unit of the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Microsoft - explored claims that
the gang infected PCs and controlled them via Internet Relay Chat
Two American and one Canadian are also said to have been
involved in the gang - with the 16-year-old Canadian suspect having
in May 2004 and subsequently sentenced to nine months probation.
All members of the gang are believed to be too young to serve
"Virus writers are increasingly writing malware to break into
vulnerable computers, giving them access to sensitive information
and resources. Without the user realising their computer can be
spewing out thousands of nuisance emails in a spam campaign, or
launching a distributed denial-of-service attack against an
innocent website," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos. "The youthful members of this
gang would most likely have been treated much more severely if they
were a few years older. It's important that everyone, regardless of
their age, learns that the authorities are not going to turn a
blind eye to computer crime."
Computers infected by the Randex worm were also reportedly used
to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks against a series of
Sophos recommends that companies ensure their systems are
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