[ISN] Belgian virus writer arrested

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Tue Feb 17 2004 - 06:05:49 PST

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    by Will Sturgeon 
    February 16 2004 
    A female Belgian virus writer who has been waging a very public and
    protracted war against Sophos anti-virus expert Graham Cluley has been
    arrested and charged by the authorities.
    Over the past few years 'Gigabyte' has launched a number of viruses,
    all identified by a strong anti-Cluley theme. One launched a game on
    infected PCs which challenged readers to answer questions about the
    man the author had nicknamed 'Clueless'. Another game required
    infected users to knock Cluley's head off on a modified coconut shy.
    However, like many a Western bar brawl, this petty in-fighting
    threatened to get out of control and draw in innocent bystanders, and
    Gigabyte made very few friends outside the virus-writing community.
    In total, Gigabyte is believed to have released four viruses to date:  
    Quis, Coconut, Sahay and Sharp.
    According to press reports, the unnamed Belgian virus writer was
    arrested by the police in her hometown of Mechelen. She has been
    charged and released.
    The police confiscated five PCs and closed down her website, where she
    had allegedly previously posted malicious code.
    If convicted of a charge of computer data sabotage, Gigabyte faces up
    to three years in prison and fines of up to 100,000. However, recent
    court cases involving virus writers and hackers suggest she may well
    escape with a more lenient sentence than the maximum.
    The source of Gigabyte's discontent is comments made by Cluley some
    years ago when he claimed the majority of virus writers are male.  
    Since then, Gigabyte has been on a mission to prove that females can
    cause just as much havoc as male virus writers.
    Ironically it was that strong streak of the self-publicist in Gigabyte
    which ultimately led to her undoing. Carole Theriault, a security
    analyst at Sophos, said: "It is normally incredibly difficult to track
    down virus writers but when they start coming out and boasting about
    what they are doing they can often help us to find out where they
    But perhaps the bitterest irony for the outspoken Cluley in all of
    this is that he is away on holiday as the news breaks. Never one to
    shy away from public comment, he will be kicking himself to miss this
    However, Cluley's colleague Theriault said everybody at Sophos will be
    hoping for a sentence befitting the serious crime of distributing
    malicious code - though she said the exact nature of the sentence is
    for the courts to decide. However, the case for the prosecution would
    be greatly aided if any companies affected by Gigabyte's creations
    were to come forward and give the courts an idea of extent of damage
    done, according to Theriault.
    Theriault added: "It's just a shame that [Gigabyte] didn't think to
    put her brain towards something more useful than virus writing because
    she's obviously very clever."
    And that's a point which Gigabyte may soon have time to ponder on.
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