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Sasser author gets suspended term

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Jaschan had admitted to data manipulation, computer sabotage and interfering with public services.

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BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- A German court has convicted the teenager who created the Sasser worm that snarled tens of thousands of computers last year and sentenced him to 21 months' probation.

Sven Jaschan, 19, from the northwest town of Waffensen, could have faced five years in prison as an adult but was tried as a minor because the court determined he created the virus when he was 17, said Katharina Kreutzfeldt, spokeswoman for the Verden State Court outside Bremen.

As part of the sentence, Jaschan will have to perform 30 hours of community work, either at a hospital or a retirement home, Kreutzfeldt said.

Prosecutors say Jaschan sent the computer worm on the Internet on his 18th birthday, April 29, 2004.

It was blamed for shutting down British Airways flight check-ins, hospitals and government offices in Hong Kong, part of Australia's rail network, Finnish banks, British Coast Guard stations, and millions of other computers worldwide.

The court said it was impossible to estimate the amount of damage. So far, no international civil suits have yet been filed, officials said.

Four German lawsuits were settled for under €1,000 each, said Arend Bosse, spokesman for the Rotenburg-Wuemme State Court.

Jaschan was caught last year after a tipster cashed in on a $250,000 reward offered by Microsoft, whose Windows system was prey to the virus.

Microsoft says the virus was part of a growing problem: hackers profiting from Windows vulnerabilities revealed by patches. The virus appeared 18 days after the company posted a patch to fix a flaw, and it attacked computers that hadn't downloaded the patch.

Jaschan, who reportedly spent up to 10 hours a day on his homemade computer, told Stern Magazine in an interview that he created the virus, which he called "Netsky A," to combat two existing viruses, Mydoom and Bagle. That led him to develop the Netsky virus further -- and to modify it to create Sasser.

Jaschan, meanwhile, has taken a job at a computer company that creates anti-virus programs. After three years, Jaschan's conviction will be erased from public record if there are no new offenses, Kreutzfeldt said.

Authorities who questioned Jaschan said they believed his motive was to become a famous programmer. He was arrested at his computer at the home of his mother, who runs a computer store.

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