Melissa author gets 20 months

The author of Melissa, one of the Internet’s most famous and damaging viruses, has been sentenced to 20 months imprisonment. Melissa caused millions of dollars worth of damage after being released in March 1999.

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By  Neil Denslow Published  May 2, 2002

The author of Melissa, one of the Internet’s most famous and damaging viruses, has been sentenced to 20 months imprisonment. Melissa caused millions of dollars worth of damage after being released in March 1999.

David L. Smith, 33, from Aberdeen, New Jersey, had been free on bail since pleading guilty to creating the virus in December 1999. In addition to the prison sentence, Smith was also fined US$5000.

The virus had exploited holes in Microsoft’s Outlook Client system and caused at least US$80 million worth of damage, largely by jamming up corporate email systems. Microsoft, Intel, Lockheed Martin and Lucent Technologies were among the companies forced to shut down their e-mail systems because of the virus.

Smith released the virus by posting an infected document on an alt.sex.usenet newsgroup via a stolen AOL account. The virus, reportedly named after a Florida stripper, then forwarded itself on to the first 50 addresses in all accessible Outlook address books.

Jack Clark, product marketing manager of the McAfee division of Network Associates, told theregister.co.uk that the sentence was “about right.”

“This sends a clear message to other virus creators, who over the last few years, thought they might get away with it,” he added.

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