The German teenager fingered as the author of the Sasser and NetSky worms may not be popular among IT professionals, but fans of the accused miscreant have already sprung to his defense and, apparently, opened their wallets.
On Wednesday an anonymous post to the Full Disclosure security mailing list announced a new website dedicated to raising money for 18-year-old Sven Jaschan. Describing Sasser as a "harmless wake-up call", the announcement paints Jaschan as a scapegoat for Microsoft's security failings, and warns that serious criminals could have written a deliberately destructive worm. "Medical systems could be open for tampering, harbor control systems could cause massive oil spills by terrorists and so on," the announcement reads. "Sven did the right thing by making this alarm call."
The German-hosted "Support Sasser" website includes similar text, a PayPal button, and an unexplained image of a grotesque reptilian monster. Visitors are encouraged to dig deep, though not, apparently, to raise money for attorney's fees. Instead, the objective of the fundraising is to ensure that Jaschan "has some enjoyable days at least, so he has something to remember with joy in the hard times to come".
Police arrested Jaschan last week on information provided to Microsoft by informants hoping to split a $250,000 cash reward. According to police, Jaschan quickly admitted to creating Sasser, which exploited a vulnerability in Windows' Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS). Jaschan is also suspected of launching all 28 versions of the NetSky worm. He's now free on bail.
Though some Full Disclosure denizens agreed that Microsoft shared responsibility for Sasser for writing the bug that made the worm possible, most posters didn't see the virus as the work of a good Samaritan.
"The only thing Sven Jaschan did was to disrupt the life of people that have better things to do than ensure their system is up-to-date. I'm talking about people like my Mom, or sister," wrote one. Others reacted to vagueness of the purpose to which contributions are earmarked "So we donate money and you use it to buy a new video card? I'll pass."
But at least some visitors to the site are apparently willing to give Jaschan and the anonymous fundraisers the benefit of the date. According to a contributors page, by Friday afternoon the appeal had pulled in nearly $100 in donations ranging from one cent to ten dollars.
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