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Virus Writer Looses Appeal

The Welsh virus writer that created the Redesi and Gokar worms, Simon Vallor, lost his case at London's Court of Appeal on 21 July. The worms are thought to have infected about 27,000 computers in 42 countries. Vallor was convicted and sentenced to two years jail at Southwark Crown Court in January.

His lawyer argued that the sentence should be reduced because Vallor's relative youth (he is 22), previous good character and that he did not realise how much damage his viruses would cause. The judge, Mr. Justice Aikens, dismissed the appeal, saying that the crimes were "calculated and disruptive". On hearing of the failed appeal Allan Dyer, our Chief Consultant, commented, "Almost every virus writer who has been caught has used the same excuse, that they misjudged how much it would spread or how much damage it would cause, I am glad to see that the Judge was unimpressed by it."

This is only the second conviction in the UK for writing and spreading a virus and the sentence is thought to be the harshest imposed on a virus writer anywhere. A UK court sentenced Christopher Pile to 18 months in 1995 for spreading several viruses. Other convicted virus writers include David Smith, the author of the Melissa virus, who was sentenced in the USA to 20 months and Jan de Wit, author of the "Anna Kournikova" worm, who got away with 150 hours community service in the Netherlands. However, under UK law, Vallor could have been sentenced to up to five years. Allan Dyer was pleased with the sentence, "It was not excessive, both in terms of the maximum permitted sentence, or compared to the time it would take one person to disinfect 27,000 computers, and it is enough to send a clear message to potential virus writers. Let's hope they are listening."

Most virus writers are never identified, but Vallor is reported to have been tracked down by the FBI and North Wales police after he boasted of his achievements in an internet chatroom.