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Teen tops threat chart

Security vendor Sophos has identified the biggest threat to computer users in 2004: a teenager from Germany.

Security vendor Sophos has identified the biggest threat to computer users in 2004: a teenager from Germany.

Although Sven Jaschan confessed in May this year to being the writer of the Netsky and Sasser worms, they continue to spread and will likely still be doing so when he is tried next year, the company pointed out. His creations account for more than 50% of all the virus incidents reported in 2004, according to figures from Sophos, which this month released its annual list of the worst viruses.

“2004 was the year of the Netsky – the first of more than 30 versions of this worm arrived on the scene in February and an astonishing five variants have made it in to the annual top 10,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

While the Netsky and Sasser worms were prolific, sadly computer users shouldn’t feel they can rest easy following Jaschan’s arrest, as to date Sophos has detected a total of 10,724 new viruses, worms and Trojan horses this year. That represents a 51.8% increase over 2003, and users don’t seem to be learning from past mistakes either. The Zafi-B worm, which was first seen in June, is still spreading at a similar rate, Sophos claims.

“It is simply shocking that viruses like Netsky-P and Zafi-B are still infecting computers, months after they were first protected against by anti-virus companies,” said Cluley. “Anyone still being infected by these worms is demonstrating a worrying lack of concern for their PC’s health.”

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