bum rap for a worm tweaker

Michael Gartenberg really seems to want to throw the book at Jeffrey Lee Parson, the kid who modified the Blaster worm and let it out on the net at large. I think Michael's mad at the wrong guy.

The reality is, Sobig is the worm that's done the most damage recently, which is a totally different problem. And the strain of Blaster which caused the most damage had already run its course before Parson created his version. All he did was modify an existing worm and make a variant that was, by all accounts, much less successful. Throw in words like "terrorism" and "potential damage", though, and this kid's going to get royally screwed when this case comes to trial.

It's easy to say, "he's a criminal" and of course that's literally true. But he ought not suffer for the far more serious crimes of others, and I fear that it's quite likely that he will. This isn't, despite what the prosecutors will say, a kid with a great deal of technical knowledge. I'm pretty sure I have enough technical knowledge to modify an existing worm and release it, though I wouldn't be foolish enough to stamp my name on the damn thing. And I'm a biz dev guy, for pete's sake. Imagine what a real programmer could do.

I'm not saying the kid shouldn't be punished. But I suspect a lot of people want to make this kid suffer for their victimization by the original Blaster and by Sobig, though those were both the work of people far more sophisticated than Parson. If not for the havoc wreaked by those worms (and, yes, if not for the vulnerability of Microsoft software in general) Parson wouldn't be making the news at all for what's essentially a failed attempt at making his own version of someone else's malware. Punish him for what he's done, yes. But don't make him suffer for others' sins.

You probably don't know anybody who's suffered at the hands of Parson's worm, and you would never have even heard of his case if not for the crimes of others. That doesn't make him responsible for their actions, and he ought not be punished for crimes that even the prosecutors havent' accused him of.

Tags: