Police Question Notorious Ex-Virus Writer And Confiscate Computers

According to reports on an IT security website, Czech police have interviewed and confiscated computers from “Benny”, a former member of the 29A virus-writing gang. The 22-year-old man, who lives in Brno in the Czech Republic, was questioned by police on Thursday 25 November and had all of his computer equipment confiscated for further examination.

According to the media report, police questioned “Benny” principally about the hard hitting Slammer worm which exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft’s SQL Server software and slowed down sections of the internet in January 2003.

“Benny has always said that he never released his viruses into the wild, so it will be interesting to see if any charges will be brought against him. However, he has published his dangerous viral source code on the internet which may have acted as an encouragement for others to cause damage,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “Virus-writing is not just a juvenile prank – it causes real harm to the data of innocent computer users worldwide. It’s good to see police around the world take action against those in the computer underground who promote virus writing and malicious behaviour.”

In a statement dated February 18 2003 “Benny” – who has posted a weblog and photos of himself online and has even been interviewed about writing viruses by the New York Times – announced his retirement as a virus writer. Earlier this month it was revealed that he has gained employment writing anti-virus software for a Czech company. Around the same time, 29A announced that he had resigned his membership of the malware-writing group.

Another member of the 29A virus-writing gang, “Whale”, was found guilty by a Russian court earlier this month. In the wake of the police action against “Benny”, two other members of the 29A gang – “Ratter” and “dis69” – are said to have resigned from the group and “Benny”‘s weblog has disappeared.

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