We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


I am glad they caught this guy.

Sven Jaschan is charged with computer sabotage, disrupting public services and illegally altering data.

The 19-year-old is being tried as a minor behind closed doors as he was 17 when he wrote the worm.

Sasser wrought havoc in many companies when the Windows worm struck in May 2004, swamping net links and making computers unusable.

How much high explosive would you have to let off to do as much damage as this little monster unleashed? And before you say that explosives kill people and all he did was screw around with a zillion computers, my guess is that actually, one way or anther, he did kill quite a few people. That much stress and grief must have ended a few lives.

I find myself thinking along these lines. And failing that, onwards and outwards to all those planets out there, so people like this can be transported to them, like in Alien 3.

17 comments to Worm

  • Julian Taylor

    It still only goes to show that people like this kid can still prosper through the total ignorance of others. This is a list of basic things that Windows users should bear in mind at all times when using their computers online,

    1. Keep current on Windows updates.
    2. Use and keep current an antivirus program.
    3. Use and keep current firewall software or hardware.
    4. Use and keep current a spyware detection program.
    5. Install all security updates for existing programs.
    6. Don’t open any email attachments that you are not expecting to receive.
    7. Use strong passwords.
    8. Backup your data, etc. for the inevitable.
    9. When a Netsky or Sasser event is occurring, read the news stories and take preventive action.
    10. Maintain vigilance.

    Simple guidelines you would think? Over 60% of all computer users will not even bother to do thisand apparently less than 30% of Windows-based computer users have an antivirus programme in operation.

  • “Simple guidelines”? Maybe in a world where you have to put on a germproof spacesuit just to walk down the bloody street. Or you could realize that only a very few people “have no choice but to use Microsoft Windows”, invest a small bit of time in learning a proper system, and leave such silliness on the trash-heap of history where it belongs.

    Windows’ weaknesses don’t excuse a criminal’s actions. They just make it easy for every pimply-faced teenager to become a criminal.

  • Sonja Blumpkin

    I am also glad the government caught and rightfully persecuted this criminal.

    Three cheers for government.

  • Damaged Justice: it is true that in no way a burglar should be excused because a homeowner failed to lock his house. But it still does not mean that the house should have not been locked. As to alternative OSs, I suspect that if they would ever become as prevalent as Windows, they would become just as vunerable.

  • zmollusc

    You forgot “0. Give your computer away every 5 years to some *nix geek so that you can buy a bigger PC with a new, more bloated windows as M$ have dropped support for your existing win OS”.

  • zmollusc

    Hmmm…. that last post implies that other OS providers support their stuff forever, which they don’t. Sorry for any confusion.

  • DJ – none of Julian’s guidelines are even slightly hard to follow. Any company that is seriously hit by a worm outbreak thoroughly deserves it, just as much as a company that left all its takings on an unguarded table in its public lobby would deserve to lose them.

    (this in no way excuses the creator’s actions, just as my reckless stupidity doesn’t excuse your actions if I call you a fat wanker and spit at you, and then you beat me to death…)

  • Jamie Young

    Sonja: “Three cheers for government.”

    Yes. Law enforcement is one of the two things that the government should be allowed to do.

  • Verity

    Am I the only one whose glass is half full? Has no one else thought that this guy could drive a coach and horses through Tone’s Nazi ID Card plans? With a stupid government and a clever hacker, I don’t see how we could lose.

  • Not that I agree with this line of reasoning but:

    Since Microsoft knew about the security flaws, and didn’t do anything about it, he might avoid prison, the criminal energy required to inflict the damage wasn’t all that high, making it, in the eyes of the court a lesser offense.

    Private parties which had suffered damages du to him can take him to court, but so far few have been willing to come forward and admit that a 19-year-old could do this to them.

    I personally think that a jail-term of 25 to 50 years would be a more appropriate punishment. I’m sure that people did die due to him, for hospitals and other viatl institutions also depend on computers. How many people in intensive-care units had the machinery their lives depended on fail because of the little bastard?

  • Verity

    Ralf – This is a genuine question: surely hospitals have back-up for computer failure? They have back-up power for power failures, after all …

  • If anyone were running an intensive care machine on Windows, then *they*’re the one who should be locked up. Indeed, I’d bet a trillion pounds that nobody is.

    The worst impact this worm would’ve had in healthcare is stopping the doctors from shopping online and checking their emails for a few hours…

  • Simon

    Microsoft Security Bulletin MS04-011 was posted 2 weeks before Sasser was seen in the wild.

    Safty critical equipment would always be run by embedded software as opposed to a general-purpose operating system.

  • Verity,

    most certainly do. Mind you I’m no expert on this but the problem it seems to me is redundancy, or rather the lack of same – if the backup computer system isn’t completely independent of the primary one, the worm can get to it, too. Again, this will be the case with most, but not all hospitals, so given the shher number of affected computers, the worm very likely has killed some people.

  • Verity

    Ralf – He could make amends by buggering up Tone’s fascist ID Card plans.

  • Julian Taylor

    … surely hospitals have back-up for computer failure?

    Verity, I have seen Harrow’s Northwick Park Hospital “At Risk” psychiatric register running on an early 90’s Mac Quadra 900 (the machine they have in the ward itself for the consultant psychiatrist), which I once helped to defragment, as well as seeing an oncology register at one of the UK’s leading cancer centres (Royal Marsden in Sutton) running on Windows 95 just last year. In the latter case there was certainly no AV protection, despite a network connection for the computer, and there certainly was no clear backup in situ.

    Obviously, in hindsight, is it very silly of any of us to presume that a government department, even a NHS one, would invest in anything that would make their system safer or more secure.

  • Verity

    Julian Taylor – That is indeed disturbing.