The creator of the “Sasser” Internet worm, which caused millions of dollars in damage worldwide, won’t be going to jail despite his conviction Friday on charges including computer sabotage.
Sven Jaschan, 19, who was fingered with the help of reward money from Microsoft Corp., instead got a 21-month suspended sentence and was ordered to do community service.
He could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison, but prosecutors sought only a two-year suspended sentence because he was a minor when he was arrested.
“Sven Jaschan avoided a jail sentence by the skin of his teeth because he was arrested within days of his 18th birthday,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for anti-virus vendor Sophos. “In many ways, Sven Jaschan was lucky that the police caught him when they did.”
Virus writers have received sentences reduced before because of their age, although an American who created a version of the 2003 “Blaster” worm was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Jeffrey Lee Parson, 19, of Hopkins, Minn., had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Following Jaschan’s conviction, Microsoft said two people who helped identify him would share a $250,000 reward. It is the first bounty to be paid under the Redmond, Wash.-based company’s $5-million reward program. Microsoft declined to identify the recipients.
Nancy Anderson, Microsoft’s vice president and deputy general counsel, said the company was not disappointed that Jaschan avoided going to prison.
Jaschan was ordered to perform 30 hours of community service at a hospital or retirement home but he wasn’t ordered to pay court costs.
The Sasser worm exploited a flaw in Microsoft’s Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems. Although it did not cause permanent damage, it prompted some computers to continually crash and reboot.
Sasser snarled hundreds of thousands of computers, hitting a third of Taiwan’s post office branches, delaying 20 British Airways flights and forcing British coast guard stations to use pen and paper for charts normally generated by computer.