LONDON, ENGLAND, 1995 NOV 16 -- In the first case of its kind in the
United Kingdom, a computer user that wrote and spread viruses has been
jailed for 18 months. The author wrote not just viruses, but also a
virus masking program that meant many virus checkers could not detect and
clean the infected files.
Christopher Pile, a 26 year-old of Pike Road, Plymouth, Devon, in
Britain's south west, went under the name of "Black Baron" and wrote two
computer viruses, Pathogen and Queeg, named after expressions used in the
British Sci-Fi comedy "Red Dwarf."
What made these particularly dangerous was the addition of a third
program which cloaked the two viruses, making them invisible to many
virus checker programs. The cloaker software, named Smeg, also after a
Red Dwarf expression, was attached to the viruses and distributed on its
own so others could disguise their own creations.
Upon activation, the Pathogen virus would display a message on a user's
screen, again based on a line from the TV series, that read, "Smoke me a
kipper. I'll be back for breakfast. Unfortunately some of your data
The Queeg virus was Pile's second creation and used a more advanced
version of the Smeg cloaker software to disguise itself.
Pile was said to have distributed the software to virus makers and
hackers worldwide on bulletin boards and the Internet and to have
attached the software to other programs that users would unwittingly
download and run. One infected program was a virus checker.
At Exeter Crown Court, Pile pleaded guilty to 11 offenses under the
Computer Misuse Act of 1990. Specifically, five were of unauthorized
access to computer systems to facilitate crime, five were of unauthorized
modification of computer material, and one of inciting others to spread
viruses. The offenses took place between 1993 and April, 1994.
In court, Brian Lett, prosecuting, claimed one unnamed company had
suffered half a million pounds worth of damage ($780,000) as a result of
the acts of Pile.
Upon sentencing, Judge Jeremy Griggs commented, "Those who seek to reap
mindless havoc on one of the vital tools of our age cannot expect lenient
treatment." He was then sentenced to 18 months in jail.
from [email protected] - 16 Nov 95
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