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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 May, 2004, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Funds sought to aid virus writer
Sign for Sasser creator's home town, AP
The Sasser author was arrested at home
The Sasser web worm caused trouble for thousands of net users but its author does at least have some fans.

A group called the Sasser Support Team has begun gathering cash donations for Sven Jaschan, the author of Sasser.

Following a tip-off, Mr Jaschan was arrested in Germany in early May and has since confessed to being the creator of the Sasser worm.

Mr Jaschan has now been freed while he is investigated on computer sabotage charges.

Funding drive

The Sasser worm appeared on 1 May and rapidly spread around the web crashing computers that it infected.

German police arrested Mr Jaschan on 7 May near the town of Rotenburg in northern Germany and soon after he reportedly owned up to making the virulent worm.

If found guilty of sabotage charges, Mr Jaschan could face up to five years in jail.

But the Sasser Support Team has sprung to his defence, saying the whole episode was a misunderstanding.

In an anonymous message announcing the formation of the fund sent to a computer security mailing list, the group said Mr Jaschan had a positive end in mind when he created the worm.

"Sasser was intended as a harmless wake-up call to the world," said the e-mail. "Sven did the right thing by making this alarm call."

It continued: "When will people realise that microsofts (sic) base products are not fit to be subjected to the hostile environment that the internet is these days?"

The group is accepting donations for Mr Jaschan to pay legal fees or simply to help him enjoy himself a little before he goes to court.

Russ Cooper, Trusecure
Cooper: Microsoft could have limited the damage
In e-mails to BBC News Online the Sasser Support Team said it was independent of Mr Jaschan and said it wanted to raise a lot of cash for him.

"The sky is the limit," they wrote. "However, it seems to peak at around the price for a stick of smokes and some cheap whisky."

The website set up to co-ordinate the donations has, at time of writing, collected $97.15. The highest donation is 10 and the lowest one cent.

Donations can be sent via the Paypal net payment system.

"The entire world is angry with him, so we think he could use some friends," the team wrote. "We also like sticking it to the man."

Damaging attack

Statistics gathered by security firm Trusecure found that the biggest problem Sasser caused, with 73% of those surveyed, was a surge in calls to help desks to clean up infected machines.

Also 63% of those hit by Sasser found that it stopped them using their desktop computer to get on with work.

Some 30% of those surveyed said it took 10 hours or less to clear up after the virus hit them.

Trusecure reports that most people fell victim through direct net connections. It estimates that it will cost $979m to clean up the damage done by Sasser.

Russ Cooper, chief scientist at Trusecure, said the impact of the worm could have been minimised if Microsoft had done a better job of distributing a security patch.

"If Microsoft had broken down the patch into smaller components as opposed to one large patch," he said, "numerous businesses would have been able to protect themselves more readily against the Sasser worm and the global impact of the Sasser Worm would have been significantly reduced."

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