No Jail Time For Sasser, Netsky Author

The author of the Sasser and Netsky worms was sentenced in a German court Friday to one year and nine months of probation.

Sven Jaschan was 17 years old when he was arrested by German authorities in May 2004 for creating and distributing two of the most damaging e-mail worms in Internet history.

He was charged in September 2004 and pled guilty to data manipulation, computer sabotage and interfering with public corporations. The sentence was handed down following a four-day trial in Verden, Germany.

According to security firm Sophos, the effects of his activities are still being felt around the world, with Netsky variants accounting for 25 percent of all the virus reports in the first half of 2005.

While a recent survey conducted by the company last month shows 66 percent thought Jaschan should get jail time, officials think organized crime rings should get the stiffest penalties.

“Even a year after his arrest, it is more likely that you will be infected by a worm written by Sven Jaschan than any other virus author,” Graham Cluley, Sophos senior technology consultant, said in a statement. “However, in the grand scheme of the virus world, it’s the organised crime gangs, which are increasingly emerging to make stacks of money through targeted attacks, that should be dealt the harsh sentences — over and above the dumb teenagers.”

Cluley said the teen escaped a jail sentence “by the skin of his teeth” because he was arrested shortly before his 18th birthday, avoiding trial as an adult. In addition to probation, Jaschan is required to complete 30 hours of community service.

Microsoft said it is awarding $250,000 to two individuals who helped identify Jaschan as part of the company’s anti-virus reward program. The program was established in November 2003 by Microsoft, the FBI, Interpol and the U.S. Secret Service to provide an incentive to get people to identify cyber-wrongdoers.

Nancy Anderson, Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel, said the company is pleased about the Friday announcement and that the Sasser writer is being held accountable for his actions.

“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,” she said in a statement.

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