July 7, 2005

Prosecution Urges Probation for Sasser Virus Author

BERLIN (Reuters) -- Prosecutors have asked for a two-year suspended jail sentence for the man who wrote the Sasser Internet worm that wreaked havoc in big businesses and homes worldwide last year, a German court said on Thursday.

The court in the western town of Verden said the defense had argued for a one-year probation as a maximum sentence for 19-year-old Sven Jaschan, who has confessed to creating the worm and pleaded guilty to all charges.

The prosecution also wants Jaschan to perform 200 hours of community service during a three-year probationary period, the court -- expected to announce a verdict on Friday -- said in a statement. Jaschan has admitted to data manipulation, computer sabotage and interfering with public services after the Internet attack which knocked out an estimated 1 million computers among home users and companies from early May 2004.

Sasser victims ranged from the British Coastguard to the European Commission, Goldman Sachs and Australia's Westpac Bank. Some security firms called it the most destructive worm ever.

The Sasser worm disabled computers by spreading on the ubiquitous Microsoft Windows operating system.

Because he was still a minor when some of the events occurred, media and the public were not allowed to attend the trial of the computer studies' student. He could face a maximum jail sentence of five years according to German law.

Jaschan, who authorities described as a "computer freak," was identified as the author after Microsoft offered a reward of $250,000 for information leading to his arrest.

It is believed he began creating programs, including the Netsky virus, to seek out and destroy other viruses.