78% feel virus writer sentence was not harsh enough, reveals Sophos poll

July 11, 2005 Sophos Press Release

A web poll of more than 550 business PC users, conducted by Sophos, has revealed that 78% believe that last Friday's sentencing of Sven Jaschan, the German teenager found guilty of writing and distributing the Netsky and Sasser worms, was not harsh enough.

A further 17% of respondents agreed with the North Germany court decision, which sentenced Jaschan to one year and nine months on probation and 30 hours community service.

A mere 5% felt this sentence was too severe.

In 2003, Sophos polled computer users on Welsh virus writer Simon Vallor's sentence of a 2-year custodial sentence - 61% of those surveyed believed a prison term was the most appropriate sentence for anyone who writes and distributes a virus.

"With almost 80% of those surveyed saying Jaschan's sentence was too lenient, it seems that many computer users aren't convinced justice has been served," said Carole Theriault, security consultant at Sophos. "Perhaps even more interesting about the Jaschan sentencing is Microsoft splashing out US $250,000 to the two unidentified people who helped track Jaschan down - especially when speculation hints that these people are teenagers who may have had some involvement with Jaschan. It's good to see Microsoft taking strong action against such crimes, but it might struggle if it has to shell out big bucks for every virus writer who gets arrested."

Microsoft offers bounties for information leading to the successful prosecution of cyber criminals who attack its software. Microsoft's vice president and deputy general counsel Nancy Anderson stated, "It has been important and gratifying to collaborate with and support law enforcement in this case, and we're glad to provide a monetary reward to those individuals who provided credible information that helped the German police authorities solve this case."