A British teenager has been sentenced for his part in writing and distributing the Randex worm which turned infected PCs into 'zombies', controlled by spammers and designed to send out vast quantities of unsolicited email.
The creation of 'bot-nets' has become a prolific weapon in the arsenal of professional spammers and their creation through the distribution of worms and Trojans has become big business for virus writers.
In this case the British teen is believed to have been part of an international gang, based in Canada, Europe and the US. The Randex worm is also thought to be behind a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks which crippled ISPs in October 2003.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was handed a six-month suspended sentence at South Cheshire juvenile court, leading one security expert to suggest he escaped lightly because of his age.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said whatever age the perpetrator it's important the authorities don't "turn a blind eye". Cluley cited figures which suggested the DDoS attacks alone cost businesses around $2m.
The conviction follows the arrest in May of another teenage suspect based in Canada.