New Year to Bring Nastier Viruses Yet

Thursday, 5 December 2002, 3:15 PM EST

Virus specialist Daniel Zatz is hoping love blossoms for an 18-year-old Dutch woman and that the economies of Eastern Europe pick up.

Zatz, a Sydney, Australia-based security consultant for Computer Associates, warns that more serious viruses are on the cards for 2003 following a lull this year--unless current events and personal lives of known virus-writers change.

About 250 viruses appeared each month in 2002, compared with 400 last year, he says, but the latest ones have been more damaging, with the Klez virus, now in its eighth variant, proving the most prevalent of all.

Zatz says this is because rather than being produced by 18 to 25-year-olds, the "script kiddies", many viruses are being written by 26 or 27-year-olds, often software developers in Eastern Europe "honing their skills" while unemployed.

For example, Zatz remains hopeful that a Dutch woman who goes by the name Gigabyte who wrote the Sharpei virus and maintains a virus-writing Web site, remains busy with her boyfriend hacker. She hasn't produced any viruses for a while.

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