Germans hunt for 'Sasser' accomplices

/ Source: The Associated Press

German police said Wednesday they searched five apartments in northern Germany in an effort to track down suspected accomplices of an 18-year-old who confessed to creating the "Sasser" computer worm and the "Netsky" virus.

Police carried out the searches Tuesday, and questioned five people — two of whom told investigators that the teenager, Sven Jaschan, had given them the source code for Netsky, which first hit the Internet in mid-February. One of them said he helped circulate Netsky, police said.

Spokesman Frank Federau said the searches led to no arrests, but refused to give further details.

Jaschan was arrested at his home in the village of Waffensen last Friday and released pending charges after he admitted to creating the viruses. He has told officials his original intention was to create a virus, "Netsky A," that would combat the "Mydoom" and "Bagle" viruses, removing them from infected computers.

That led him to develop the Netsky virus further. After modifying it, he created Sasser, which raced around the world over the past week, exploiting a flaw in Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Jaschan is being investigated on suspicion of computer sabotage, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Authorities who have questioned him say they got the impression his motive was to gain fame as a programmer.

He was arrested after informants seeking a reward tipped off Microsoft Corp. Police said the five apartments searched Tuesday were close to Jaschan's home village, around the town of Rotenburg an der Wuemme.