'Name and shame virus writers - even the kids,' says expert

Need to make sure they don't get back into 'the water supply'...

Need to make sure they don't get back into 'the water supply'...

A leading antivirus expert has said virus writers must not be afforded the right to anonymity - even if they are minors when they commit their crimes.

This week Sasser writer Sven Jaschan is on trial in Germany and while he is being tried as a minor because he was 17-years-old at the time he committed his crimes, his identity has not been protected.

Dave Rand, chief technologist at Trend Micro, said that is a great result for the antivirus industry and society in general.

Rand believes virus writers' crimes must follow them through their lives because society cannot risk them resurfacing in a position of responsibility - perhaps even charged with protecting the very PCs they would once have compromised.

He said age cannot be an excuse even if they don't quite realise the damage they might be doing.

"If you take a kid who downloads tools from some ftp site and releases a virus, does he understand the repercussions of his actions?"

"I would argue he doesn't," said Rand. "Perhaps on an intellectual level he does but on a practical level I'd say 'no'."

However, ignorance is no defence said Rand and anonymity should not be guaranteed by the courts.

"When it is computer-related crime, it is important their identity is known. We need to know their name and know what they look like," he said, adding that companies have a right to know if they are employing somebody with a history of writing malicious code.

Rand said he would sack anybody "on the spot" if he found out they had been caught writing malicious code in the past.

Controversially, one security company did offer Jaschan a job despite being aware of all the facts. And it was an offer the teenager took up. But Rand isn't convinced they will even get value for money from employing a virus writer.

"There is a very different level of work and knowledge required to release a professional product to that required to write malicious code," said Rand, suggesting virus writers may not be as well-suited to jobs in the security industry as some believe.