Feeds

Melissa virus author jailed for 20 months

Long time coming

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

The author of the infamous Melissa virus was sentenced today to 20 months in Federal prison for causing millions of dollars of damage through its release into the wild in March 1999.

David L Smith, 33, pleaded guilty to creating the virus in December 1999 - the delay in his sentencing has created consternation in the security community.

Free on bail since then, Smith learned his fate today when Judge Joseph A. Greenaway sent him to prison and imposed a $5,000 fine.

Both sides in the case agreed that damage from Melissa, one of the first email borne viruses that exploited flaws in Microsoft's Outlook client exceeded $80 million, largely by jamming up corporate email systems.

Jack Clark, product marketing manager of the McAfee division of Network Associates, described the sentence as "about right" and expressed hopes that it would act as a deterrent to other would-be virus creators.

"This sends a clear message to other virus creators, who over the last few years, thought they might get way with it," said Clark, who hoped other authorities would look at the US ruling.

Smith released the Melissa virus by deliberately posting an infected document to an alt.sex.usenet newsgroup from a stolen AOL account. The virus, believed to be named after a stripper Smith knew in Florida, forwards itself to the first 50 addresses in all of your accessible Outlook address books.

Companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Lockheed Martin, and Lucent Technologies were forced to shut down their email gateways because of the large amount of email generated by the virus. It also caused the closure of e-mail systems of government agencies in both the US and UK. ®

Related Stories

Justice mysteriously delayed for 'Melissa' author
Melissa programmer freed on bail
Melissa virus threatens to bring email to a halt
AV vendors sell 'blunt razor blades'
Malware by numbers: online virus creation tool spotted
MS security memo a mere gesture
Anna Kournikova virus author stands trial
24 year-old Brit charged with virus writing

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.