- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004


A teenager arrested in May was responsible for 70 percent of all Internet viruses received worldwide in the first half of this year, authorities said.

Sven Jaschan, 18, was still at school in Germany when he admitted writing and spreading the Sasser and Netsky “worms” and their variants, which caused widespread irritation and damage.

“It is simply staggering that a single German teenager can have had such a dramatic impact,” said Graham Cluley, senior technical consultant at computer security company Sophos.

The Sasser worm caused huge disruptions to businesses and organizations in May, hitting, among others, British Airways, the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Taiwan’s post office, government departments in Hong Kong and Australia’s RailCorp train company.

The Sophos report also shows many more viruses are being created. The company detected 4,677 new types of viruses up to the end of June, up 21 percent from last year. Actual numbers of infections are not known because many remain unreported.

However, of all e-mails sent, about one in 11 contain viruses.

Police arrested Mr. Jaschan at his family home in Waffensen, Germany, on May 7 after being tipped off by persons motivated by Microsoft’s $250,000 reward for information leading to conviction.

A court date has not been set. Mr. Jaschan faces up to five years in prison if convicted, but he could escape a custodial sentence because the viruses were written before his 18th birthday in April.

Mr. Jaschan told the German magazine Stern that he spread the viruses to gain his peers’ respect and admiration. “I felt as if I had written a first-class essay. How Netsky spread, I think it’s terrific, and my classmates thought I was terrific.

“Then it was reported on TV. That was cool. Only occasionally did I wake up in the middle of the night and think, yikes, there might be trouble.”

He said he is hoping to turn from poacher to gamekeeper by seeking a job with a computer security company.

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