Authors of Vietnamese computer virus fined
Apr 28, 2006, 10:56 GMT
Hanoi - The authors of a computer virus known as Pretty Girl were fined 630 dollars by Vietnamese authorities after they were found guilty of unleashing the destructive bug, the People's Police newspaper said on Friday.
'Gai Xinh' or Pretty Girl hit Vietnam in early April, infecting 20,000 computers in two days. Anti-virus investigators quickly traced the source of the worm to two brothers, one of whom is in high school.
As soon as they were discovered, the authors of the virus, whom officials identified as Bui Hai L. and Bui Hai N., shut down their domain and immediately sent letters to news outlets explaining the stunt. They said it had been 'a study and research exercise trial.' They later sent apologies to all of the computer users that the virus had infected.
According to Vietnamese law, the two could have been jailed for seven years and fined more than 7,000 dollars. It is believed they received a relatively light punishment because they cooperated with police.
'The punishment in the form of an administrative fine is severe enough because this is the first time they committed such an act,' said Nguyen Tu Quang, director of the Bach Khoa Internetwork Security Centre. 'If they do it again, or any other violators commit the same act, they will be dealt with harshly.'
The program, the first of its kind in Vietnam, used Yahoo Messenger to travel from computer to computer. It was spread when a user clicked on an Instant Messenger contact name. Pretty Girl did not circulate widely outside of Vietnam because the invitations to open the link to see photos of beautiful women were written in Vietnamese.
Inspectors at the Ministry of Post and Telematics said the virus did not do any permanent damage. But they added that the level of the program's complexity indicates that Vietnamese computer programmers are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
Cheap and easily accessible, Internet usage is extremely popular among Vietnam's youth. In just five years, the number of users has jumped to 12 million, up from 1 million.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur