Feeds

Sasser author gets IT security job

'Second chance'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Sven Jaschan, self-confessed creator of the destructive NetSky and Sasser worms, has been hired by German security company Securepoint. He's been offered work as a trainee software developer working on security products, such as firewalls, even though he may go to prison for creating one of the most destructive computer viruses to date. Jaschan was charged this month with computer sabotage. No trial date has been set.

Securepoint technical director Lutz Hausmann says the teenager deserved a second chance. He learned of Jaschan's desire to work in the security industry from an interview in Stern. He wrote into Stern inviting Jaschan to apply; the teenager responded, an interview was set up and Jaschan was offered a job. "He has some know-how but not a high level of skills in software development. He was the best from people who wanted a job," Hausmann said.

The skills needed to develop security software are different from those needed to write malicious code. And how would Securepoint's potential customers feel about buying security software from a company employing the world's most notorious virus writer? "He [Jaschan] did a bad thing but that doesn't make him a bad person. He's interested in making things better. This is positive rehabilitation."

Jaschan has been employed by Securepoint since 1 September but news of the appointment emerged last weekend, taking many in the security industry by surprise.

More clueless than malicious

"I'm sure most people have serious doubts about a security company hiring a virus writer. No doubt Securepoint will have to explain their decision over and over again," said Mikko Hyppönen, director of anti-virus research at Finnish AV firm F-Secure.

"But in a way I'm happy Sven gets a second chance. After all, we really should try to rehabilitate criminals to enter normal working life again and to become a productive part of the society. Just like in real life many companies avoid hiring ex-convicts but everybody agrees somebody should do it. So in that sense we should be glad that Securepoint is doing this."

Hyppönen notes that Jaschan was trying to create a virus that "attacked other viruses written by professional virus writers working with spammers". But his efforts misfired, causing huge inconvenience for many innocent users.

"Sven's viruses removed viruses like Bagle and MyDoom and uninstalled spam proxies such as Mitglieder from infected computers. But of course, his viruses also caused huge amounts of damage - such as Sasser taking down X-Ray machines in hospitals in Sweden," Hyppönen explained. F-Secure concludes that Jaschen was "more clueless than malicious".

Local anti-hero

Although regarded as a vandal by victims of Sasser, Jaschan has been given a gentle treatment in the German media. This, it transpires, was a key element in him been obtaining work. History provides at least one close parallel.

Jan de Wit, Dutch author of the Anna Kournikova email worm, was invited to apply to his local council by the town mayor. Ultimately nothing came of this but it does show how virus writers can become local heroes.

"It's very important that the security community does not send out a message that writing viruses or worms is cool, or a route into employment," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos." Jaschan is infamous for his involvement in the Sasser and Netsky worm outbreaks - it might have been less controversial if he had found employment in another part of the IT industry." ®

Related stories

Sasser kid charged with computer sabotage
German police arrest Sasser worm suspect
Sasser creates European pandemonium
Sasser worm creates havoc
War of the worms turns into war of words (NetSky vs. Bagle)
MyDoom and Netsky cause chaos
Kournikova virus kiddie gets 150 hours community service
Welsh virus writer loses appeal
Welsh virus writer Vallor jailed for two years

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.