COMPUTER VIRUS Teenager pleads guilty



One manager plans to be prepared for more viruses like the one the teen wrote.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jeffrey Lee Parson, the 19-year-old Hopkins High School senior arrested in connection with last summer's massive "Blaster" computer worm outbreak, pleaded guilty Wednesday to authoring and unleashing an early variant of the worm that infected scores of computers and tried to take down a Microsoft Web site.
Authorities said they hope Parson's guilty plea in a Seattle federal court will serve as an example to scare off other virus writers who, like Parson, tend to be young, create viruses for bragging rights and possess just enough computer knowledge to be dangerous.
But several computer security experts said Wednesday that the shadowy world of computer viruses has evolved disturbingly in the 12 months since the Blaster worms wrecked havoc on networks worldwide last August.
Who is doing it?
The new breed of virus writer is older, craftier and writing viruses for money, not kicks. They are likely living overseas and associated with organized crime in developing nations such as Russia and Romania where computer crimes are not a high police priority.
For network managers like Michael Barnes, the director of information technology for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, that means steeling yourself for more attacks. His department got socked by one of the variants of the Blaster worm last year and since then has beefed up its ability to load anti-virus software and worm patches automatically.
"His being sentenced -- it's going to help," Barnes said of Parson. "But our future is: It's not whether there's going to be a virus attack, it's where and when."
Parson originally pleaded innocent to the government's single charge of intentionally causing or attempting to cause damage to a protected computer, but changed his plea to guilty Wednesday in Seattle.

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