[ISN] Creator of "Melissa" Virus, Which Did Millions of Dollars of Damage, Sentenced to 20 Months

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu May 02 2002 - 00:10:43 PDT

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    The Associated Press 
    Published: May 1, 2002
    NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The creator of the "Melissa" virus was sentenced
    Wednesday to 20 months in federal prison for causing millions of
    dollars of damage by disrupting e-mail systems worldwide in 1999.
    David L. Smith, 33, pleaded guilty in December 1999 to a state charge
    of computer theft and to a federal charge of sending a damaging
    computer program. In the federal plea, both sides agreed the damage
    was greater than $80 million.
    Smith is believed to be among the first people ever prosecuted for
    creating a computer virus. In court Wednesday, he called the act a
    "colossal mistake."
    The Melissa virus, which struck in March 1999, was disguised as an
    e-mail marked "important message" from a friend or colleague. It
    caused computers to send 50 additional infected messages. The volume
    of messages generated slowed some systems to a crawl.
    Smith could have faced up to five years in prison, but prosecutors
    suggested a term of about two years, saying he had given authorities
    extensive assistance in thwarting other virus creators. He was also
    fined $5,000 by U.S. District Judge Joseph A. Greenaway Jr.
    Smith has said he created the virus on computers in his Aberdeen
    apartment and used a stolen screen name and password to get into
    America Online.
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