Feeds

Melissa virus author jailed for 20 months

Long time coming

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

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 next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.