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9/14/2003
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Flurry Of Arrests Made In Cybercrime Cases

Police here and overseas press charges against alleged hackers and virus writers

The crackdown on cybercrime is continuing. Law-enforcement officials have arrested and charged several suspects accused of instigating some of the recent wave of computer viruses and system hacks.

ADRIAN LAMO PHOTO

Lamo is charged with computer hacking.

Authorities in Romania last week charged Dan Dumitru Ciobanu with cybercrimes for writing the Blaster-F variant; he faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. That followed the arrest last month of Jeffrey Parson, who is accused of writing and releasing the Blaster-B worm variant, which allegedly infected 7,000 systems. Parson faces up to 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Adrian Lamo, who became famous for breaking into the computer systems of large companies and then offering to help fix the security flaws for free, last week surrendered to authorities. A federal complaint alleges he illegally accessed The New York Times' network and altered a database containing the personal information of editorial-page contributors. Lamo faces up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Under U.S. law, figuring out the amount of damage caused by worms and viruses is a key part of determining punishment. And that can be difficult, says Mark Rasch, former head of the Justice Department's computer-crime unit and now a senior VP and chief security counsel at security vendor Solutionary Inc.

"Would those 7,000 systems [Parson] supposedly infected have been infected by the original Blaster worm?" Rasch asks. "The government needs to be careful parsing the damages from his worm and the other variants that were released."

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