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Sasser Writer Confesses

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May 10, 2004 10:24 AM PDT    Text size: 
GERMANY – The mastermind behind the Sasser virus might have just been trying to drum up business for his mother's PC repair business, German authorities said Monday.

Sven Jaschan, the 18-year-old author of the deadly virus that crippled millions of computers in less than a week and racked up untold amounts of financial damages to personal and corporate networks, claims he never realized how deadly his source code really was.

Jaschan released the most recent version of the Sasser virus (Sasser.e) just before being taken into custody in his hometown of Waffensen.

Authorities are still piecing together a story of a boy with good intentions who somehow took a wrong turn in cyberspace. The teenager has confessed to creating the code behind Sasser, but his orginal intention was to create a virus that would wipe out the Mydoom and Bagle viruses. However, what Jaschan ended up creating was the code for Netsky, and then later Sasser.

"He said he really wanted to develop an antidote to the virus," the boy's father told police. "He said he didn't want to cause any damage."

The tip on Jaschan's whereabouts came from a family acquaintance looking to collect on the $250,000 bounty offered by Microsoft for the capture of the Sasser author, and any other authors of malicious code. Police later discovered what is believed to be the original virus code for Sasser on the young programmer's computer in the basement of his parent's house.

Microsoft claims that the young programmer is responsible for authoring all 28 variants of the Netsky virus, although evidence has not yet been discovered to prove that theory.

Jaschan was released from a Berlin jail Friday after questioning. He was released without bail and there is little concern that he is a flight risk, authorities said.

Investigators are currently considering a theory that the young programmer developed Sasser in order to create business for his mother's PC Help business, a computer maintenance company.

Jaschan could face charges of computer sabotage and a possible five-year prison sentence if he is found guilty. German authorities are also saying that the programmer could be held liable for some of the damages he caused companies that were brought to a standstill because of the virus.

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