The Minnesota teen was arrested Friday and charged with developing a variant of the Blaster worm that snarled computer networks last month. The 18-year-old appeared in Federal District Court in St. Paul, Minn., after his arrest; U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Richard Nelson released him after ordering Parson not to access the Internet or any other network connection and placing him on electronic monitoring.
Parson told the judge he understood the charges against him. He didn't enter a plea during his initial court appearance. His next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 17 in Seattle, where the case was being investigated.
Parson, who used the online name "teekid," is suspected of developing the Blaster.B variant of the worm that appeared Aug. 13, according to court documents released Friday by the Department of Justice that outline the case against Parson. Collectively, the variants of the Blaster worm infected more than a half-million computers worldwide last month.
The variant developed by Parson is believed to have infected only about 7,000 computers, according to the court documents. However, assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Luehr told the judge during the hearing that Parson's worm, along with other Blaster variants, caused $5 million to $10 million worth of damage to Microsoft alone.
Parson, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound teen described by neighbors as a loner, isn't believed to have had anything to do with developing the original Blaster worm, and the investigation into the original cyberattack is continuing.
Nelson warned Parson that failing to appear at future hearings would cost him $25,000 from an unsecured bond and disobeying the terms of his release would land him under immediate arrest and subject him to additional charges. He's allowed to leave his home only for doctor visits and school, and he's not allowed to use the Internet on computers at Hopkins High School, either.
FBI and Secret Service agents searched Parson's home in Hopkins, Minn., a Minneapolis suburb, on Aug. 19 and seized seven computers. Parson at the time admitted to an FBI agent that he changed the original Blaster worm and renamed the executable file "teekids.exe," the court documents say.
The Blaster.B worm was programmed to connect back to a Parson-operated Web site named www.t33kid after it infected computers, allowing Parson to keep track of infected computers so he could take control of them later. But the link helped authorities trace the worm back to Parson.
The U.S. attorney's office in Seattle is leading the investigation because the Blaster infection affected software sold by Microsoft based in nearby Redmond, Wash. Parson is formally charged with intentionally causing and attempting to cause damage to a protected computer, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.