Virus-writer turns tail, covers tracks

After distributing a killer virus, "Raid" looks to make a getaway.

"Raid", a virus-writer who distributed the Toadie.exe virus and then taunted the authorities on a number of public newsgroups, could now be trying to cover his tracks, according to one anti-virus expert.

Sources at Sophos anti-virus believe that the authorities may already be hot on the trail of this individual after his or her virus crippled the Austrian headquarters of one of their major international clients over the weekend. Raid posted Toadie.exe to various warez sites disguised as a password cracking program.

The hacker, who is believed to be a member of virus writing group Slam, posted messages to the newsgroup alt.comp.virus over the weekend, boasting about the destruction his virus had caused. When asked by one contributor why he should want to do this he explained that it's one way of going down in history: "A person remembers many things, a person should remember which virus zonked his/her essay paper, their saved games etc. It's my goal to make them."

Raid was also asked if he is concerned about the authorities. He or she wrote, " Nobody knows who Raid [SLAM] even is. Sure, you have a few guesses; but they are that. Merely guesses. I'm laughing my ass off."

Raid has subsequently attempted to erase a number of these messages and has is prevented them from being archived at newsgroup site Deja.com.

Graham Cluley, senior technical consultant with Sophos anti-virus believes Raid could now be in big trouble. He said, "Raid is playing a very, very dangerous game. The US authorities have shown that they are prepared to pursue this sort of thing by any means."

The alleged author of the Melissa virus, David L Smith, is currently being prosecuted and faces a maximum penalty of 40 years' imprisonment and a fine of $480,000, if found guilty.

Cluley thinks that this case could also have put the wind up Raid. He added, "Raid has been fairly quiet of late. Maybe he's just getting on with his real life, or he's found girls or something, but he could well have taken a look at this case and got the heebie-jeebies."