[ISN] Virus Sender Helped FBI Bust Hackers, Court Records Say

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Sep 17 2003 - 22:39:12 PDT

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    By Martha Mendoza 
    The Associated Press 
    Sept 17, 2003
    Federal prosecutors credited the man responsible for transmitting the
    Melissa virus - a computer bug that did more than $80 million in
    damage in 1999 - with helping the FBI bring down several major
    international hackers.
    Court documents unsealed Wednesday at the request of The Associated
    Press show that David Smith began working with the FBI within weeks of
    his 1999 arrest, primarily using a fake identity to communicate with
    and track hackers from around the world.
    "Smith provided timely, substantial assistance to the United States in
    the investigation and prosecution of others," New Jersey's U.S.  
    Attorney, Christopher J. Christie, wrote to federal judge Joseph
    Greenaway in an April 2002 letter.
    Greenaway, who could have sentenced Smith to about 10 years in prison
    under federal sentencing guidelines, reduced the sentence to 20 months
    after reading the letter.
    The 35-year-old Smith, who declined to be interviewed, is serving his
    sentence in federal prison at Fort Dix, N.J. His attorney did not
    return calls from the AP.
    According to the court document, Smith helped the FBI bust virus
    senders abroad and stop viruses in the U.S.
    The letter says that two months after his arrest, Smith gave the FBI
    the name, home address, e-mail accounts and other Internet data for
    Jan DeWit, the author of the so-called Anna Kournikova virus in the
    Netherlands. The FBI passed the information on to authorities in the
    Netherlands. DeWit was arrested and later sentenced to probation.
    Also in 2001, Smith recorded online discussions with Simon Vallor, the
    author of the "Gokar" virus that infected Microsoft computer systems
    worldwide. The FBI contacted detectives in the United Kingdom, who
    arrested Vallor early the next year.
    Vallor, 22, was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty
    in London to writing and distributing "Gokar" and two other viruses.
    The federal prosecutor also said that Smith was working with the FBI
    to develop an investigative tool that theoretically could help
    identify an e-mail sender who was trying to mask his or her identity.
    Smith began cooperating with the FBI immediately after his arrest. He
    told the judge while pleading guilty that he did not expect the amount
    of damage that took place.
    "When I posted the virus, I expected that any financial injury would
    be minor and incidental," he said. "In fact, I included features
    designed to prevent substantial damage."
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