Anna Kournikova (computer virus)
|Type||Email vbs attachment|
|Point of origin||Netherlands|
|Author(s)||Jan de Wit|
The Anna Kournikova computer worm was a computer worm written by a Dutch programmer named Jan de Wit on February 11, 2001. It was designed to trick email users into opening a mail message purportedly containing a picture of the tennis player Anna Kournikova, while actually hiding a malicious program. If set off, the program plunders the address book of the Microsoft Outlook e-mail program and attempts to send itself to all the people listed there. The Kournikova worm tempts users with the message: "Hi: Check This!", with what appears to be a picture file labelled "AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs". The worm arrives in an email with the subject line "Here you have, ;0)" and an attached file called AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs. When launched under Microsoft Windows the file does not display a picture of Anna Kournikova but launches a viral Visual Basic Script that forwards itself to everybody in the Microsoft Outlook address book of the victim.
The worm was created using a simple and widely available Visual Basic Worm Generator program developed by an Argentinian programmer called “[K]Alamar”. While similar to the ILOVEYOU worm that struck a year earlier, in 2000, the Anna Kournikova worm did not corrupt data on the infected computer.
Apparently, the author created the worm in a matter of hours. "The young man had downloaded a program on Sunday, February 11, from the Internet and later the same day, around 3:00 p.m., set the worm loose in a newsgroup." De Wit turned himself in to authorities in the town of Sneek located in the northern province of Friesland in the Netherlands. "By the time he understood what the worm did, he had conferred with his parents and decided to turn himself in to the police."
It has been reported that the efforts of another virus writer working undercover for the FBI, David L. Smith, led to the identification of Jan de Wit and that the FBI passed the information to authorities in the Netherlands. De Wit turned himself in to the police in his hometown Sneek on February 14, 2001, a few days after the worm was released.
Reportedly, and resembling the cases of other computer virus writers, only a few days later the mayor of Sneek, Mayor Sieboldt Hartkamp, made a tentative job offer to De Wit, quoting his programming skills.
De Wit was tried in Leeuwarden and was charged with spreading data into a computer network with the intention of causing damage, a crime that carried a maximum sentence of four years in prison and a fine of 100,000 guilders (US$41,300).
The lawyers for Jan de Wit called for the dismissal of charges against him, arguing that the worm caused minimal damage. The FBI submitted evidence to the Dutch court and suggested that US$166,000 in damages was caused by the worm. De Wit admitted he created the worm using a worm creation toolkit but told the court when he posted the virus to a newsgroup he did it "without thinking and without overseeing the consequences". He denied any intent to cause damage. De Wit was sentenced to 150 hours community service or 75 days in jail.
In popular culture
In the Friends episode "The One in Barbados, Part One", Ross Geller's laptop was infected by the Kournikova worm when Chandler Bing checked his email on it. The version of the worm in the episode was more malicious than the real thing, as it deleted Ross' entire hard drive, including his speech on paleontology, when it was opened. Moreover, the computer was a PowerBook G4, which is immune to Windows-based viruses.
- Comparison of computer viruses
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- "Kournikova computer worm hits hard". BBC News. 13 February 2001. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
- "Confession by author of Anna Kournikova worm". OUT-LAW News. February 14, 2001. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
- Robert Lemos (February 14, 2001). "FBI probes worm outbreak after "Anna" arrest". CNET News. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
- "Court documents reveal that Melissa's author helped authorities catch other virus writers". Sophos. September 18, 2003. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
- Joris Evers (09/13/01). "Maker of Kournikova worm stands trial". IDG News Service. Retrieved 2009-05-10. Check date values in:
- "Kournikova worm author should not be rewarded". Sophos. February 19, 2001. Archived from the original on 26 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
- Robert Blincoe (2001-09-27). "Kournikova virus kiddie gets 150 hours community service". The Register. Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-10.