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A German teenager who authorities say confessed to creating the Sasser computer worm in May has been charged with computer sabotage. Sven Jaschan, 18, was arrested after telling officials he originally wanted to create a virus, Netsky, to automatically remove two other viruses, Mydoom and Bagle, from infected computers. He had developed several versions of Netsky and, after modifying it, created Sasser. Sasser, which took advantage of a known flaw with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system, snarled tens of thousands of computers and caused Internet traffic to slow. Unlike most outbreaks, Sasser did not require users to activate it by clicking on an e-mail attachment; instead, it automatically scanned the Internet for computers with the security flaw and sent a copy of itself there. Prosecutors said they have been contacted by 143 plaintiffs with total damage claims of $157,000. But because many businesses and individuals never report such damages, prosecutors believe the actual figure is in the millions. In their indictment, prosecutors in Jaschan’s home state of Lower Saxony chose the cases of three German city governments and a public broadcaster whose systems were disrupted. Computer sabotage carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Authorities who questioned Jaschan said they got the impression his motive was to gain fame as a programmer. He was caught after informants seeking a reward tipped off Microsoft. He was arrested sitting at his computer at the house of his mother, who runs a computer store in the small northern town of Waffensen. Prosecutors are also investigating several of Jaschan’s friends as suspected accomplices, though none of them have been charged. No trial date has been set for Jaschan. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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