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27 Feb 2004

Blaster worm suspect accused of launching other internet attacks, Sophos comments

Jeffrey Lee Parson
Jeffrey Lee Parson faces up to ten years imprisonment

Jeffrey Lee Parson, the Minnesota teenager arrested in connection with a variant of the Blaster worm, has been accused by prosecutors of having "a long history of causing damage over the internet".

Prosecutors claim that Parson, who went by the nickname of "teekid", admitted to investigators that he had launched attacks against the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Parson was arrested on 29 August 2003 in connection with the W32/Blaster-B worm. The author of the original, and much more widespread, W32/Blaster-A worm is still unidentified.

W32/Blaster-B included a section of offensive text hidden inside its code directed towards Microsoft, Bill Gates, and the anti-virus industry.

"If found guilty, Jeffrey Lee Parson faces a maximum of ten years imprisonment. It has to be questioned whether such a severe sentence would really be in the public's interest," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The original Blaster worm caused a much more considerable scale of damage and infected millions of computers around the world, and yet its author continues to walk free. If Parson did write W32/Blaster-B then he should be punished, but the sentence should reflect the level of harm he actually caused rather than treat him as a scapegoat."

A report by Monica Soto Ouchi of the Seattle Times paints a sad picture of the difficulties Parson and his parents have faced since the arrest.

"All those considering writing and distributing a virus should consider carefully the implications their actions may have on others, including their close family," continued Cluley.

Jeffrey Parson's trial is scheduled to begin on 17 May.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.