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Thursday, August 12, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
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Blaster Internet worm defendant, 19, pleads guilty

By Kim Peterson
Seattle Times technology reporter

Jeffrey Lee Parson faces up to 3 years in prison.
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The Minnesota man who created a version of the Blaster Internet worm pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Seattle and could be sentenced in November to up to three years behind bars.

As part of his plea agreement, Jeffrey Lee Parson, 19, admitted he downloaded the original Blaster worm last August to his home computer in Hopkins, Minn., and bundled it with a "back-door" software program that allowed him to access infected computers. He then transmitted the program onto the Internet.

In a soft voice, he told U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman he wasn't sure what was going to happen at that point. "After a few days, I expected it to work as the original, just with the back door installed and for me to have access," he said in court.

The original Blaster worm infected about 1 million computers last summer. Parson's variant hit about 1,200 Internet addresses, although the number of computers it infected is unclear.

Like the original worm, Parson's Blaster variant caused infected computers to launch an attack on one of Microsoft's Web sites last August. Microsoft has said it has spent millions responding to the Blaster attacks.

Parson, who graduated from high school this year, pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally causing and attempting to cause damage to a protected computer. He faces from 18 to 37 months in prison at a federal facility. He may also have to pay a fine, which the U.S. attorney said could be in the millions of dollars.

Parson flew to Seattle late Tuesday from Minnesota, where he has been in a home-incarceration program. He lives with his parents and has been required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet that tracks when he leaves the house.

Pechman ruled that Parson doesn't have to wear the bracelet anymore, but that he must continue to be supervised when he leaves the house to ensure that he doesn't access any computers.

He hasn't used a computer since he was arrested last August at his home. "You're not even to look at a computer," Pechman told Parson.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes said in court that Parson told investigators he had hacked computers in the past.

According to court papers, Parson said he had also launched attacks against the Web sites of the motion-picture and record industries.
 
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"He had a consistent and malicious attitude" toward people and companies, Hayes said.

Parson's lawyer said that he was young when he created the worm and had no understanding of how serious his actions were, but has obeyed the rules since he was arrested.

Kim Peterson: 206-464-2360 or kpeterson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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