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 Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 20:20 GMT
Virus sentence sends out shockwaves
Computer

The two-year prison sentence handed down to programmer Simon Vallor is expected to hit hard in the bedrooms and studies of computer users around the world.

Vallor was convicted of three counts of releasing a computer virus contrary to section three of the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

The "mass mailer" viruses Gokar, Admirer, and RedesiB were received by computers in dozens of countries.

If you do like to write codes for the dark side this is what can happen

Jack Clark
Security expert
Evidence provided by Scotland Yard, after a tip-off from the FBI, was surprisingly scarce.

One of the detectives who tracked down Vallor to his bedroom in Llandudno, North Wales, said it was "difficult to quantify the damage this kind of virus can do".

The court heard from just one UK-based anti-virus computer company which said Gokar was sent to around 33,000 business and home computers.

Data provided to the police by the company contained only one example of the RedesiB virus and five of the Admirer virus.

Computer security expert Jack Clark of anti-virus company McAfee said Vallor's sentence based on such evidence would send shockwaves around the online community.

"The sentence sends a clear message to users of the internet that if you do like to write codes for the dark side this is what can happen.

"Their actions can affect the real world."

Mr Clark said McAfee as a global company would receive around 500 examples of virus authors a month. The record was 1,500.

"And there are plenty of others out there," he added.

Fantasy world

Mr Clark said the sentence would be a deterrent to people who failed to understand the consequences of their actions.

"A lot of the time I believe virus authors are in some kind of fantasy world. This could drag them out into the real criminal world that they are living in.

"We have to break down the barriers between cybercrime and real crime and this can only help."

He said there had been better investment in fighting anti-virus crime, and many companies were working with law enforcement bodies such as Scotland Yard's computer crime unit.

Mr Clark added: "The numbers reported seem quite low. The figures were from a UK-based company. We as a global company could have added extra information, and not to Mr Vallor's benefit."

See also:

21 Jan 03 | Wales
17 Dec 02 | Technology
29 Nov 02 | Technology
25 Oct 02 | Technology
26 Nov 02 | Technology
Links to more Wales stories are at the foot of the page.


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