Sophos, the leading developer of corporate anti-virus protection, haswelcomed the sentencing by a US court of David L. Smith – theself-confessed author of the infamous Melissa worm – to 20 monthsimprisonment and a fine of $5,000. The Melissa worm was the first eversuccessful mass-mailing worm and has provided the blueprint for manyothermass mailers including The Love Bug, Anna Kournikova and MyParty. TheNew Jersey court adjudged Smith’s worm to have caused more than £55million pounds worth of damage.
However, with Smith first confessing to writing and distributing theworm in 1999, Sophos is calling for swifter action by the courts toincrease the deterrent to future virus writers.
“The Melissa worm was a serious security breach, inconveniencingmillions of computer users the world over – it’s important that Smithhas been dealt with in an appropriate manner by the US courts,” saidGraham Cluley, senior technology consultant, Sophos Anti-Virus. “It’sjust a shame that the authorities couldn’t have worked quicker to bringhim to book. Smith has already been a dark inspiration to a wholegeneration of script kiddies – these copycat virus writers would haveundoubtedly thought twice before distributing their malicious code iftheir hero was serving time.”
Melissa, named after a Florida stripper admired by David L Smith,congested the email systems of thousands of companies worldwide causingmany to panic and shut down their internet connection to the outsideworld.
Graham Cluley is available for further informed comment and analysis onthe typical virus writer profile on 01235 544114 (office) or on 07990552181 (mobile).
More information on the Melissa virus can be found at