In the Spotlight

News & Features
More from MPR
Your Voice
DocumentJoin the conversation with other MPR listeners in the News Forum.

DocumentE-mail this pageDocumentPrint this page
Minnesota teen pleads guilty in Internet worm attack
Larger view
Jeffrey Parson of Hopkins, Minnesota, pleaded guilty Wednesday to unleashing a variant of a computer worm in the summer of 2003. (MPR file photo)

Seattle, Wash. — (AP) - A Minnesota high school senior pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to unleashing a variant of the "Blaster" Internet worm that crippled more than a million computers last summer.

Jeffrey Lee Parson, 19, of Hopkins, Minn., is likely to face one and a half to three years behind bars after pleading guilty to one count of intentionally causing or attempting to cause damage to a protected computer. He also could be ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution, Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes said.

Parson had pleaded not guilty after his arrest last August, but told U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman on Wednesday, "I downloaded the original Blaster worm, modified it and sent it back out on the Internet."

Different versions of the Blaster worm, also known as the LovSan virus, crippled computer networks worldwide last summer. Parson's variant launched a distributed denial-of-service attack against a Microsoft Windows update Web site as well as personal computers. The government estimates his version inundated more than 48,000 computers.

Parson was charged in Seattle last August because Microsoft is based Redmond, a suburb.

"We appreciate the fact that the defendant has accepted responsibility for the crime he committed," Microsoft deputy general counsel Nancy Anderson said Wednesday.

Parson is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 2 before Pechman, and prosecutors have recommended 18 to 37 months behind bars. Parson had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Last fall, authorities said Parson admitted during an interview with FBI and Secret Service agents that he modified the original "Blaster" worm that made computers attack the Microsoft Web site in the summer of 2003.

They also have said Parson admitted that he previously launched attacks against other organizations, including the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America.

One of Parson's lawyers, Carl Koller, said that Parson was young when he committed the attacks and that being arrested made him realize the seriousness of his crime.

"He has been exemplary," she said. "He has not touched a computer since the day of his arrest."

Parson has been out of jail on a $25,000 pretrial bond with electronic home monitoring. On Wednesday, Pechman - citing his good behavior since the arrest - ordered him taken off electronic home monitoring pending sentencing.

Still, Parson cannot leave his home except to go to work, or if supervised and preapproved by the court. The judge declined Koller's request to grant him greater freedoms, such as being able to go to the movies without his parents.

"Mr. Parson is not a normal teenager," Pechman said. "Mr. Parson isn't going to be like other teenagers, who can take the family car, go to parties, go to the beach. That's not the way it's going to be."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Respond to this story
News Headlines
Related Subjects