British Teen Sentenced For Computer Worm That Helped Spammers

A British teenager has been convicted for releasing the Randex computer worm, designed to turn innocent infected computers into compromised ‘zombies’ for mass-mailing spam campaigns.

According to media reports, the 16-year-old youth has had his six month sentence suspended on probation by the South Cheshire juvenile court in Crewe, UK.

The international investigation – which brought together New Scotland Yard, the USA’s FBI, the Technology Crime Unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Microsoft – explored claims that the gang was selling details of compromised machines to spammers.

Two Americans and one Canadian are also said to have been involved in the gang – with the 16-year-old Canadian suspect having been arrested in May 2004 and subsequently sentenced to nine months probation. All members of the gang are believed to be too young to serve prison sentences.

“Spammers and virus writers are increasingly working in collaboration. Virus writers write malware to break into vulnerable computers, and convert them into unwilling participants in spamming campaigns. Without the user realising their own computer can be spewing out thousands of nuisance emails, clogging up the internet with messages that no-one sane would ever want to receive,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “The youthful members of this gang would most likely have been treated much more severely if they were a few years older. It’s important that everyone, regardless of their age, learns that the authorities are not going to turn a blind eye to computer crime.”

Computers infected by the Randex worm were also reportedly used to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks against a series of websites. Reports have suggested that these internet attacks cost the companies concerned more than $2 million.

Further information about the Randex worm can be found at:

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