The survey of 330 business PC users, conducted by antivirus company Sophos, revealed that 86 percent believed that the British virus writers responsible for the TK Worm, jailed last Friday, should have been given harsher sentences by the authorities.
Members of the Thr34t-Krew cybercrime gang, Andrew Harvey and Jordan Bradley, were sentenced to six months and three months in jail respectively for causing unauthorized modification of computers with intent.
Only three percent of respondents believed that the sentence given out at Newcastle Crown Court was too harsh. 11 percent thought the punishment for creating the trojan, which was designed to take control of victim's computers, as fair.
"The fact that such a high percentage of respondents in our web poll think these hackers should have received a more severe punishment shows that businesses are sick to the back teeth of those who engage in computer crime," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "People are realizing that malware authors are not geniuses engaged in some harmless mischief, but causing serious disruption to business systems, and should be dealt with seriously."
Bradley, 22 and Harvey, 24, who pleaded guilty to the charges against them, conspired together, and with others, to break into innocent users' computers and use them as part of a botnet to commit further crimes.
"The fact that these young men operated through the virtual environment doesn't make this illegal intrusion less real or less potentially damaging," Cluley said. "They were fully aware of their destructive actions and a harsher sentence would have sent a stronger message to all who write computer viruses, worms and trojans."