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Minnesota teen sentenced for releasing Blaster worm variant
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Jeffrey Parson of Hopkins, Minnesota, was sentenced to 18 months Friday for releasing a variant of the Internet "Blaster" worm, which affected tens of thousands of computers, in 2003. (MPR file photo)

Seattle, Wash. — (AP) - A Minnesota man was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison and 10 months of community service after pleading guilty to crippling nearly 50,000 computers by unleashing a variant of the "Blaster" Internet worm in the summer of 2003.

Jeffrey Lee Parson, 19, of Hopkins, Minn., was a high school senior using the computer name "teekid" when he modified the worm. He initially pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea last summer to one count of intentionally causing or attempting to cause damage to a protected computer.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said she was sentencing him at the low end of the agreed-upon range because although he was 18 at the time of the attack, his maturity level was much younger than that.

Parson will serve his time at a low-security prison.

He had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Parson's lawyers said he had a fear of leaving the house and that his parents provided little guidance or support.

"I know I've made a huge mistake and I hurt a lot of people and I feel terrible," Parson told the judge. He noted he had made a video with the Seattle School District to warn teens against Internet vandalism.

Pechman told Parson: "What you've done is a terrible thing. Aside from injuring individuals and their computers you shook the foundation of the system."

"I learned a lot about you," she added. "Many of the mental-health problems from the household you grew up in contributed to this problem. (The Internet) has created a dark hole, a dungeon if you will, for people who have mental illnesses or people who are lonely. I didn't see any parent standing there saying, 'It's not a healthy thing to lock yourself in a room and create your own reality."'

Versions of the Blaster worm, also known as the LovSan virus, crippled computer networks worldwide. 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 because Microsoft is based in suburban Redmond.

Authorities 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.

Parson had been out of jail on a $25,000 pretrial bond pending sentencing. He was not allowed to leave his home in Minnesota except to go to work, or if supervised and preapproved by the court.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)