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John Tierney has an interesting Op-Ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times in which he discusses the 21-month suspended sentence given to the author of the dreaded Sasser worm, which closed businesses, halted trains, and grounded airplanes, to quote Tierney.

Oh, the author of the worm, Sven Jaschan, was also given 30 hours of community service.

Tierney’s article has an interesting discussion of an economic analysis by economist Steven Landsburg at University of Rochester concerning the value of capital punishment. The good professor believes that executing a murderer yields $100 million in social benefits.

Tierney’s argument, which is only partially tongue-in-cheek, says that computer worms, viruses, and other hacks are costing society $50 billion a year. So you only need to deter a mere 0.2% of those crimes–1 in 500 hackers–to get your money’s worth.

Is it time to start saying “Death to Hackers!”?

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