Security firm hires teenager accused of writing Sasser virus

Sven Jaschan, a German 18-year-old who is thought to be behind the Netsky virus and is currently awaiting trial for creating Sasser, could be about to start work for a security company
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Sven Jaschan, an 18-year-old from Waffensen in Lower Saxony, who is also thought to be behind the Netsky virus and is currently awaiting trial for writing the Sasser worm, could be about to start work with German firewall company Securepoint.

Securepoint says it will teach the ex-malware maker to be a security programmer. The security vendor says they would like to hire the reformed script kiddy because he had knowledge in the field and deserved a chance to prove himself.

However, Jaschan's software training may need be put on hold for some months -- even years. The teen is currently facing charges including data manipulation and computer sabotage, which could see him in jail for up to five years.

Jaschan is thought to be responsible for 70 percent of all virus infections in the first half of the year and estimates of the damage cause range up to several million pounds.

Some security professionals have expressed unease about Jaschan's new job, although said they are happy to see him rehabilitated and contributing to IT. Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at antivirus firm Sophos, said: "The company that has hired him has an interesting challenging ahead reassuring the media and its customers that it has not set a precedent by 'rewarding' those who may have only months before been launching attacks against innocent computer systems."

Cluley also said he would prefer Jaschan to join the right side of IT as a games writer or Web designer, not tinker with security after his previous history.

One software writer contacted by silicon.com said that he would "be worried for the sake of the company" if a virus writer like Jaschan were to join his team. While being a game writer might help keep ex-virus writers on the straight and narrow, "unless he was working on antivirus stuff, [his knowledge] wouldn't be that useful", he said.

While Jaschan may have decided to forget about the virus writing world, the virus writing world clearly hasn't decided to forget about him.

The latest version of MyDoom contains a picture of Jaschan. Mikko Hypponen, director of antivirus research for F-Secure, said the virus writing community could be trying to mock the teen.

"The photo could be making the point that MyDoom has won the virus war but then again, Netsky was much more widespread than MyDoom" he said.

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