'

Author of Chernobyl virus arrested in Taiwan

Could face up to three years in jail

The virus writer who created the infamous Chernobyl virus has been detained by authorities in Taiwan and could face up to three years in jail.

Chen Ing-hau escaped prosecution after being detained in 1999 but a Taiwanese student whose computer was this year crippled by the virus has brought new charges.

The virus, also known as CIH, is designed to trigger on the anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It is estimated to have caused hundreds of millions of pounds of damage to computer systems worldwide when it first struck in April 1999. The virus attempts to erase the hard drive on a victim's computer.

The decision to arrest Chen Ing-hau has been welcomed by anti-virus vendors. "It is encouraging to see the authorities in Taiwan take the damage caused by viruses such as CIH seriously," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "This sends a strong message to virus writers that they will not escape punishment for their actions."

Bringing virus writers to justice has often proved a tricky business. Traversing international boundaries and ill-equipped laws have made it difficult for law enforcers to bring charges for the famous Love Bug virus released in May of this year.

In December of 1999 Chen Ing-hau landed a job at Taiwanese hardware firm Wahoo International Enterprise on the back of his infamy.

Take me to the Virus Workshop

What do you think? Tell the Mailroom. And read what others have said.