Feeds

Melissa author helped Feds track other virus writers

A snitch in time saves jail time

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

David Smith, author of the Melissa virus, assisted computer crime authorities in the investigation and prosecution of other virus writers.

Within weeks of Smith's arrest by the FBI in 1999, he was using a fake identity to communicate with and track virus writers around the world, according to court documents released yesterday.

According to these documents, Smith gave the FBI the name, home address, and email address of Jan de Wit (also known as "OnTheFly"), the Netherlands-based author of the Anna Kournikova virus. The FBI passed the information on to authorities in the Europe, who arrested de Wit. The Dutchman was ultimately sentenced to 150 hours community service for his actions.

In 2001, David L Smith is claimed to have assisted investigators in recording online discussions with Welsh virus writer Simon Vallor. The FBI shared the information with British detectives, who arrested Vallor in February 2002. Vallor subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years imprisonment for computer crime offences earlier this year.

The revelations that Smith had turned informant come in court documents relating to probation bargaining between Smith's New Jersey attorney, Christopher Christie, and Judge Joseph Greenaway, who sentenced Smith to 20 months in prison in 2002.

Christie claimed Smith "provided timely, substantial assistance to the United States in the investigation and prosecution of others," in the court documents, AP reports.

"Both Jan de Wit and Simon Vallor showed extraordinary levels of stupidity, helping the authorities track them down," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "Jan de Wit's Kournikova virus contained his nickname 'OnTheFly'. Unfortunately he also had a website with that name, complete with downloadable images of the tennis pinup. You wouldn't have had to have been Sherlock Holmes to solve that riddle."

"Vallor, meanwhile, appears to have done himself no favours by writing viruses which included messages to his mates, and bragging about his achievements online. Hollywood's depiction of virus writers as geniuses could hardly be further from the truth," Cluley added.

Vallor was released from prison earlier this month, but is being electronically tagged, and forced to obey a curfew which prohibits him from leaving his Welsh home after 7.15pm.

David L Smith continues to serve his sentence in federal prison at Fort Dix, New Jersey. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
KER-CHING! CryptoWall ransomware scam rakes in $1 MEEELLION
Anatomy of the net's most destructive ransomware threat
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
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.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.