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Worms Security Government The Courts News

German Youth Convicted for Sasser Worm 421

dan dan the dna man writes "The BBC is reporting that Sven Jaschan, author of the Sasser Worm, has been found guilty of computer sabotage and illegally altering data. He received a 21 month suspended sentence, as he was tried as a minor. He was 17 years old when he wrote the worm." From the article: "Sven Jaschan avoided a jail sentence by the skin of his teeth because he was arrested within days of his 18th birthday...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."
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German Youth Convicted for Sasser Worm

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:56AM (#13013970)
    Don't lock him up, don't curtail his computer usage.

    Just force him to use AOL for the next 5 years.
  • Dumb Kid, Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DanielMarkham ( 765899 ) * on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:56AM (#13013975) Homepage
    But his "prank" costs tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars. FTA,
    ...allegedly wrecked Delta Airlines' systems in Atlanta for seven hours, leading to the cancellation of 40 flights. Around the world, the Australian Railcorp trains stopped running because computer problems caused by Sasser made it impossible for drivers to talk to signalmen. In Taiwan, more than 400 branches of the post office were forced to use pen and paper because Sasser crashed desktop computers...
    In the USA, we're already seeing a big push to try juveniles as adults in violent crime cases. The damage caused by this worm was serious business -- its not too hard to extrapolate people one day losing their lives because of worms like this.
    Being a dumb teenager is one thing. Causing world disruption is something else entirely (Yes. I know. The victims bear some responsibility)
    People take the computer too lightly, like it was a TV set or something. It's more like a small nuclear bomb in each home, great for powering the house, but not so much something you want the kids mucking around with unsupervised. If you are one of those who think gun control stops gun crime, wait 20 years or so until people start advocating "computer control" to stop cyber crime. You'll have a blast with that one.

    WTF? How About CSS Implementation? [whattofix.com]
    • People take the computer too lightly, like it was a TV set or something. It's more like a small nuclear bomb in each home, great for powering the house, but not so much something you want the kids mucking around with unsupervised

      You are opening a can of worms.


      Sorry.
    • Re:Dumb Kid, Sure (Score:4, Informative)

      by InfiniteWisdom ( 530090 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:01PM (#13014036) Homepage
      people start advocating "computer control" to stop cyber crime
      A better analogy would be when people start talking about kitchen knife control or baseball bat control. Do you see that happening?
      • A better analogy would be when people start talking about kitchen knife control or baseball bat control. Do you see that happening?

        There have been several proposals in the UK to require registration of all knives, including kitchen knives. I also know someone who was arrested and convicted of the crime "carrying a concealed weapon" for having a baseball bat in the back seat of his car and he was wearing a softball uniform at the time of his arrest. You may think the concept is absurd, but it is just abs

        • Re:Dumb Kid, Sure (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:50PM (#13014495)
          There have been several proposals in the UK to require registration of all knives, including kitchen knives

          Actually, the UK proposals include the banning of "long" kitchen knives from ownership by "the public." Presumably chefs and household gourmands are not "the public." Of course, this is completely ridiculous. People should be locked up when they do bad things, not when they own equipment (like cars, or gasoline, or kitchen knives, or computers) with which they can do bad things.
      • Re:Dumb Kid, Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ingolfke ( 515826 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:09PM (#13014120) Journal
        A better analogy would be when people start talking about kitchen knife control or baseball bat control. Do you see that happening

        Knives and bats are inanimate objects. They are controlled by people who make choices with thier minds... therefore we need to get to the root of the problem and start talking about mind control.
      • A better analogy would be when people start talking about kitchen knife control or baseball bat control. Do you see that happening?

        Yes, and it's just as stupid as gun control or computer control. Doctors' kitchen knives ban call [bbc.co.uk]

      • Uh yeah, it's called the TSA [tsa.gov] ...and they do it at all airports. That's why in-airport restaurants have to provide plastic utensils.

        I see it happening every time I get strip searched... I mean fly.
    • Re:Dumb Kid, Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:08PM (#13014112)

      We don't (usually) try kids as adults because we understand that children tend to have a more limited judgement than adults. Admittedly, there is a lot of problems with this.

      However, arguing that the punishment should be increased due to the severity of the crime is somewhat faulty logic. If a child runs into the interstate and ends up causing an accident that kills 20 people, we don't charge the child with 20 cases of manslaughter.

      That's the problem with having limited judgement: You don't really grasp the consequences of your actions.

      (Now if you want to argue that the kid's understanding of the crime was about the same as an adult's understanding of the crime, and thus he should be tried as an adult, that could be a valid argument.)

      • Re:Dumb Kid, Sure (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lseltzer ( 311306 )
        >>If a child runs into the interstate and ends up causing an accident that kills 20 people, we don't charge the child with 20 cases of manslaughter.

        I think what we have here is a kid throwing nails on the interstate and causing an accident. Sure, he's responsible for all the damage and substantially for damage from worm variants that he didn't create.

        And if he was smart enough to create such worms at age 17 he was smart enough to comprehend the damage they could cause. He did it for the notoriety, s
    • Re:Dumb Kid, Sure (Score:4, Interesting)

      by phorm ( 591458 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:31PM (#13014302) Journal
      in the grand scheme of the virus world, it's the organised crime gangs ...that should be dealt the harsh sentences

      This is, however, a very good point. Being a retard and letting something loose beyond your control is one thing, deliberately making a bid to own/disrupt as many machines online you can for purposes of blackmail/theft/etc is another.

      We can't overlook the impact of these dumb kids, and certainly should such abuse become more prevalent they should be dealt with in increasing harshness to act as a deterrent...

      However, the biggest problems I've seen are not dumb kids that let loose something bigger than they expect.

      Dumb kids tend to take out unpatched, insecure, or non-fault-tolerant systems.

      Those same systems are the target of focussed criminals who will bring them down to collect a ransom, take over them for illegal uses, or attempt to steal from them every last piece of your personal info.

      In short, dumb teenagers like this create viruses which are definately an annoyance and a potentially huge disruption, but the organized crime gangs are the ones that are killing the internet by making it a dangerous businessplace.
    • by Ranger ( 1783 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:44PM (#13014436) Homepage
      ...allegedly wrecked Delta Airlines' systems in Atlanta for seven hours, leading to the cancellation of 40 flights. Around the world,

      How is this any different than a normal day on Delta Airlines? They probably figured they could blame their low industry rankings on Sasser.
    • For every dollar lost by the Sasser worm, another industry profited. In this case it was system administrators, the hotel and hospitality industry, internet security companies and the list goes on.

    • Being a dumb teenager is one thing. Causing world disruption is something else entirely (Yes. I know. The victims bear some responsibility)

      How about, instead of blaming a dumb teenager for acting like a dumb teenager - taking the vendor to task who is responsible for this OS deployed so far and wide across the world and so insecure that a dumb teenager can cause such disruption with just some copying&pasting!

      I find it strange that no one asks "How come a kid was able to do this?".

      --paulj
    • Re:Dumb Kid, Sure (Score:4, Interesting)

      by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:57PM (#13014576) Homepage
      Unlike in the USA, minors *cannot* be tried as adults in Germany under any circumstances. In fact, the opposite is true: a young person can be tried as a minor instead of an adult if they're behind in their development, for example, even if they're over 18.

      And that's the way it should be.
    • It's more like a small nuclear bomb in each home, great for powering the house, but not so much something you want the kids mucking around with unsupervised.

      rofl...
    • and people just didn't patch. What everyone hates about this kid so much is that he caught the IT world with it's pants down. And BTW, why the heck was an _airline_ running non-mission critical software connected to a public network anyway. Boy, that makes me feal real safe.

      There's intent in criminal law you know, it's not like this kid is a terrorist. You're just bitter because he made a fool of the IT industry, of which you are probably part.
  • From the article: The two individuals who helped identify the Sasser creator will share the reward no Jaschan has been convicted, said Microsoft.

    Pretty sure they meant "once Jaschan has been convicted..."

  • Parent is wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:58AM (#13013992)
    The virus was released ON his 18th birthday (April 29, 2004). He was tried as a minor because the german courts determined that he created the virus before he was 18. He wasn't arrested days before his 18th birthday as the parent says.

    • Interesting...especially since the german courts seem to think that it's the creation of the virus that is the crime, not the release of it into the wild.

      Do you have any references for this?
      • by quentin_quayle ( 868719 ) <quentin_quayle@noSpAm.yahoo.com> on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:14PM (#13014158)

        I second the question - is it illegal in Germany to write a worm or virus? Or only to release it?

        Same questions regarding the USA ... ?

        In all the news reports and discussion of these cases, references to "writing" or "creating", and to releasing or spreading, are used interchangeably. It seems to me there is a big ethical difference and there ought to be a legal difference as well.

        Consider the following series - at what point does the actor go wrong (a) ethically (b) legally?

        1. Plan a worm, virus or other exploit
        2. Write code
        3. Compile and test it locally
        4. Explain to others how to write one
        5. Share source with friends or colleagues (a) for research/ POC? (b) for them to use any way they want? (c) with malicious intent?
        6. Make binary available passively, others have to request it, as on a web page, with notice (not forced on anyone)
        7. Someone other than the creator spreads it "in the wild"
        8. Creator knowingly infects others
    • From the Parent:

      The virus was released ON his 18th birthday (April 29, 2004). He was tried as a minor because the german courts determined that he created the virus before he was 18. He wasn't arrested days before his 18th birthday as the parent says.

      From the Article:

      "Sven Jaschan avoided a jail sentence by the skin of his teeth because he was arrested within days of his 18th birthday,"

      So he was arrested before he released the virus? When did Germany get their pre-crime division up and runnin
    • The virus was released ON his 18th birthday (April 29, 2004). He was tried as a minor because the german courts determined that he created the virus before he was 18. He wasn't arrested days before his 18th birthday as the parent says.

      So, if you plan the bank robbery before you turn 18, but only execute the plan after your birthday, is that okay?

  • by cavtroop ( 859432 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:58AM (#13013996)
    Ok, so he causes untold millions in damages (yes, real damages) worldwide, get a 21 month probation slap on the wrist, which clears off his record after 3 years if he keeps his nose clean. AND he gets a job in the antivirus industry. Sounds more like a reward than a punishment. If I ran a multinational company that was hit bad by this, I'd be in civil court suing the hell out of him right now. He deserves to be in jail, not reaping rewards for his behavior.
    • If I ran a multinational company that was hit bad by this, I'd be in civil court suing the hell out of him right now. He deserves to be in jail, not reaping rewards for his behavior.

      Sorry, but that's most likely the dumbass way to handle things.

      1. Sue him. That puts the name of your company out in the open. Hello, we're the ones who give a shit about network security ... your data's absolutely safe with us.

      2. Sue him. Pay your lawyers big bucks. Win the case (maybe). Be awarded millions in damages. Will
    • I think it depends heavily on his intent and what he thought would happen (which I don't know). If a kid throws a rock through a window and the whole building comes crashing down because it's poorly built, it seems unfair to charge him with destroying the entire building.
    • Whats the point of suing him as a multinational corporation? You'll never collect from him and will end up being portrayed in the media as a bully persecuting a teenager for a youthful indiscretion. He'll say he's very, very sorry and why are you tryring to ruin his life for just one little mistake, etc. And people will buy it because people are, on average, dumb.
  • Skin of his teeth (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hank Chinaski ( 257573 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:59AM (#13014008) Homepage
    It wasnt even this close, because in Germany the youth criminal law is applicable to persons up to the age of 21, depending on how "adult" they behave and live. E.g. Living in your own apartement and having a job will probably get you treated as an adult. For his case the social projections are quite good, because he now lives a stable life with a regular job and a girlfriend.
  • Justice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malicious ( 567158 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:59AM (#13014009)
    Create a Worm, cripple thousands of businesses, get convicted, no monitary fine, get a 2 year Jail sentence and 30 Hours of Community service, do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
    Steal a Movie, get fined Thousands of dollars, go to Jail for dozens of years, never expect to use a computer or have any rights or freedoms again.

    Amazing.
    • This is the German courts though. In the US they may have hung the kid out to dry for this as well (many US bsinesses were severely disrupted), and in Germany the penalties for stealing (or copying as the current publicity tends to center around) a DVD may be different.
    • It's funny that you should be talking shit about creating worms when you have a compressed one in your sig... Or is it a movie? I'll check it out later :P
    • Steal a Movie, get fined Thousands of dollars, go to Jail for dozens of years, never expect to use a computer or have any rights or freedoms again.

      Actually, if you steal a movie, you'll probably get a slap on the wrist. (shoplifting)

      Now if you are guilty of copyright infringement, then your head shall roll.

  • *ducks* (Score:5, Funny)

    by jZnat ( 793348 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:00PM (#13014015) Homepage Journal
    I guess he wasn't able to worm his way out of this one.
  • 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.

    Hold on a sec, there. That smacks of logic. And we all know that isn't allowed when the accused is a hacker. You know, the guys that cause kazillions of dollars of damage by fiddling with your email. Somehow.

    Keep that line of reasoning up, and pretty soon the en

    • Honestly, even though this kid is a jerk and what he did was wrong

      That would be "wrong" as in, "lost lots of people millions of dollars in revenue and productivity." If he decided to physically vandalize several storefronts to the tune of maybe only $10,000 he'd be a lot more locked up than he is for adding several more zeros to the amount. Just because he did it from a keyboard instead of with a brick.
  • by Krankheit ( 830769 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:02PM (#13014048)
    I think I speech for the Slashdot community when I say that I am going to miss these interesting programs. With Jaschan being convicted, and Claria being bought out by Microsoft, how am I going to have an excuse to go out to an extended lunch, or take the rest of the day off? My company only gives me one hour to eat lunch, which is not nearly enough to go to Wal-Mart and get my four litres of Mountain Dew, my two coffees at Dunkin' Donuts, with my two dozen donuts, and then make my way over to Burger King. I hope someone replaces Jaschan soon in the name of giving me extended lunches and days off to code. Does anyone else feel this way?
  • Robbery (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:07PM (#13014093)
    What kind of punishment would he have gotten if he had been convicted of shoplifting on several occasions? He wrote several worms, each causing some degree of economic damage, and he should have known after the first one got press coverage that it shouldn't be done.

    What if he did damage to someone's car so they couldn't use it (like slashing the tires)? What would the penalty be then?

    I see it as he got off too lightly. Just because someone is 17, doesn't mean they don't know something is wrong and shouldn't be punished for it. Maybe some people should get him drunk and get him into a fight so he violates his probation, and doesn't have his record cleared.

    He essentially got what he wanted - fame and no penalty.
  • by 1967mustangman ( 883255 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:10PM (#13014126)
    My brother in-law has what he calls the Guido proposition. That is that everyone in the country should pitch in 1 or two dollars a year to a fund which hires big guys named Guido and Luigi to fly around the world find these virus writers and spammers and well..............I think you get the picture. That would be so much better than jail time.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Is it funny that he uses traditional Italian names to perpetuate the sterotype that all organized crime "goons" are Italian?

      Would it be funny if he talked about "Leroy" and "Tyrone" playing basketball? Or "Shlomo" and "Mordecai" working in a bank? Or "Sanjay" and "Srini" taking my IT job?
      • Is it funny that he uses traditional Italian names to perpetuate the sterotype that all organized crime "goons" are Italian?

        To those of us with Italian family members who try to live up to the stereotype, it is farking hilarious.

        Lighten up. Humans have a peculiarity for going out of their way to live up to the stereotypes of their groups in that self-fulfilling prophecy way. And stereotypes come about because of small goofy differences that others notice about our group and we then often in subconscio
    • now I have an image stuck in my head of Guido van Rossum [python.org] breaking someone's legs with a baseball bat.
    • Screw Guido and Luigi, if you send me spam, I get to punch you in the nose. Seems like it would be a pretty good deterrent as well. Send 1 million emails and risk one million people punching you in the nose.

      Another option would be the scarlett letter. Just make them tattoo the word spammer on their forehead.
    • That is that everyone in the country should pitch in 1 or two dollars a year to a fund which hires big guys named Guido and Luigi to fly around the world find these virus writers and spammers and well..............I think you get the picture. That would be so much better than jail time.

      And teach them Python?

  • That was a quick trial [slashdot.org]. Took only 3 days. It was just a confession and the fact that he was a minor was probably a no brainer for the judge and lawyers.

    Kids do screw up, even ones as old as him, so I think the jail term is okay. However his employment makes it seem only that much more sensational to be a virus writer, as opposed to something that should be completely frowned upon and not rewarded in any shape or form.

  • Before you're 18 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hachey ( 809077 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:22PM (#13014236)
    I don't know about you guys, but I did some dumb things before I was 18. There are different punishments for minors for a reason, and saying "it was only a few days before he was 18" doesn't change the fact that he wasn't 18 when he wrote it. Bluring lines in the law makes a weak system.


    (I'm an ESTJ, if you didn't already know)
    --
    Check out the Uncyclopedia.org [uncyclopedia.org]:
    The only wiki source for politically incorrect non-information about things like Kitten Huffing [uncyclopedia.org] and Pong! the Movie [uncyclopedia.org]!
  • Dumb or not ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bizitch ( 546406 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:24PM (#13014254) Homepage
    I still say we string this little piggy up by his balls! - That little douchebag gave me headaches for
    fucking weeks ...
  • by Evil W1zard ( 832703 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:33PM (#13014331) Journal
    The simple fact here is that the punishment he is receiving does not fit the crime in scale and it sends out a really bad message to others in his community that they have a Get Out of Jail Free Card if they are under 18... I'm sorry but teenagers today are in many cases much smarter than adults. If the excuse is whether they are mature enough to distinguish between right and wrong then I question that argument because I think people learn that at around age 10... and if they can't comprehend the difference by age 14 then I would guess there is an issue psychologically. This kid caused millions in damages and should face not only time in prison but also some hefty monetary fines as well.
    • I have to respectfully disagree.

      When you make it a habit to place a great permanent burden upon an individual in the form of punishment, bad things will happen. If you ruin someone's life and they feel trapped and unable to make an honest living, they will make a dishonest living.

      If this kid got smacked with $5mil in fines or something similarly ridiculous that he couldn't get out of because of a judgement slip as a minor, he would likely turn to crime for life. This is why I hate how we treat felons
  • Unfortunately (Score:2, Interesting)

    Unfortunately it's the "organised crime gangs, which are increasingly emerging to make stacks of money through targeted attacks," that ARE the "dumb teenagers"...
  • Responsibility? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jondt ( 870495 )
    We're pleased that the author of the Sasser worm has admitted responsibility for the damage he caused and is being held accountable - Nancy Anderson, Microsoft

    That's nice, but how about taking some responsibility yourself? Sure, virus writers are guilty, but the users and the vendors should also take some responsibility- that means Microsoft, Oracle, Redhat and anyone else that distributes software.
  • by DirtyFly ( 765689 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @01:02PM (#13014606)
    Im getting tired of listening to all that 'you dont patch is your fault' , 'you use microsoft is your fault the system is attacked'.
    c'mon, if i leave my mobile in the car and it gets stolen, that is my fault ? NO IT IS NOT, i was dumb to leave it there because of the lack of security in the streets but I AM NOT the criminal neither is the car company that makes glasses that can be broken, either way you put it the burgler is the criminal here.
    the kid is a criminal and should be dealt with acordingly, it is true that microsoft has bugs and flaws but the attack was mallicious, lets put it other therms, an old man walks with a cane and can not run , a juvenile kicks his ass and steals his wallet , is the old mans fault that he got burglered ? This is the same situation in many companies, they have a deficiency (unsecure OS) but they must live with it and must be left alone living with it.
    Make no mistake the kid is no robin wood he did the worm just for spite , people should be hold accountable for what they do no matter what

    Jorge Canelhas

    http://www.retroreview.com/ [retroreview.com] - Retro Computing for all

    • There is a legal theory that fits the situation: computer viruses could be declared a public nuisance (which is essentially what they are at this point) and then it IS the responsibility of the victim to protect himself.
  • He received a 21 month suspended sentence, as he was tried as a minor.

    Why did they even bother with this farce?

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