German teen admits creating Sasser computer worm

Sunday, May 9, 2004

HANOVER, Germany -- A German high-school student has confessed to creating the "Sasser" worm that generated chaos across the globe by infecting hundreds of thousands of computers, authorities said Saturday.

The teenager, whose name was not released, was arrested Friday in the northern village of Waffensen, where he lives with his family. Investigators in nearby Hanover said they got a tip earlier Friday from Microsoft Corp.

Investigators confiscated the suspect's customized computer, which was believed to contain the worm's source code, the state criminal office said in a statement.

The worm raced around the world over the last week, exploiting a flaw in Microsoft's Windows operating system.

The teenager is being investigated on suspicion of computer sabotage, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, said Detlef Ehrike, a spokesman for the state criminal office. After being questioned, he was released pending charges.

The teenager told officials that his original intention was to create a virus that would combat the "Mydoom" and "Bagle" viruses, removing them from infected computers. In the course of that effort, he developed the "Netsky" virus further -- and after modifying it, Sasser.

"The student did not give any thought to the resulting consequences or damage," investigators said.

On Monday, the worm hit public hospitals in Hong Kong and one-third of Taiwan's post office branches. Twenty British Airways flights were each delayed about 10 minutes Tuesday due to Sasser troubles at check-in desks, while British coast guard stations used pen and paper for charts normally generated by computer.

Sasser is known as a network worm because it can automatically scan the Internet for computers with a security flaw and send a copy of itself there.

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