Sophos Anti-Virus is calling for businesses to report virus infections to the authorities, in order to provide evidence of the amount of damage viruses can cause.
Evidence submitted by the FBI at the trial in the Netherlands of the suspected author of the Kournikova worm shows US investigators were only able to list 55 incidents of infection, causing just $166,827 worth of damage. Jan de Wit, aka OnTheFly, is alleged to have unleashed the Anna Kournikova worm in Februrary of this year, and computer virus experts estimate millions of computer users around the world were affected.
“Businesses sometimes think that reporting a virus infection is an admission of weakness – often they would rather keep quiet in an attempt to avoid negative press,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant, Sophos Anti-Virus. “This head in the sand approach to cybercrime only serves to help virus writers. The Anna Kournikova worm was one of the hardest hitting worms ever – seven months on, we’re still getting calls to our helpdesk about it. How can the authorities hope to let the punishment fit the crime when so few companies admit they’ve been hit?”
de Wit is due to be sentenced on 27 September, and some reports have predicted a sentence of approximately 240 hours of community service.
“We’ve got a catch 22 situation – light sentences are never going to deter people from writing and distributing viruses. But the courts have little choice when there is scant evidence of money lost,” continued Cluley. “More evidence means more appropriate sentences – only when this happens will people think twice before wreaking havoc.”