02 September 2003
U.S. Authorities Arrest Suspect in Release of Internet Worm
Thousands of computers affected, causing, significant
A U.S. law enforcement team announced the arrest of a Minnesota
man August 29 in connection with the release of a harmful computer
program that caused significant damage to vulnerable machines earlier
in the month.
Jeffrey Lee Parson is charged with causing damage to protected
computers, a violation of U.S. law. If convicted, the 18-year-old
suspect faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000
According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office
in the Pacific Coast state of Washington, the harmful software
released by Parson "infected at least 7,000 individual Internet
users' computers, [and] turned those computers into drones that
attacked or attempted to attack Microsoft."
The Blaster worm was able to invade other computers through a
software vulnerability in widely used Microsoft programs. The U.S.
Attorney is Washington state is handling the matter because that
state is home to the headquarters of the company.
"The Department of Justice takes these crimes very seriously," said
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. "We will devote every resource
possible to tracking down those who seek to attack our technological
Parson is charged with creating only one variant of the Blaster
worm. Other versions were released onto the Internet in preceding
weeks, and authorities are still pursuing those violators of computer
Further information about the Blaster worm and how computers should
contend with it is available from the Carnegie Melon Software Engineering
Institute at http://www.cert.org/advisories/CA-2003-20.html and
from the Microsoft Corporation at http://www.microsoft.com/security/incident/blast.asp
Following is the text of the Washington state U.S. attorney's
office press release:
United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Washington
August 29, 2003
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA MAN ARRESTED FOR
DEVELOPING AND RELEASING B VARIANT OF BLASTER COMPUTER WORM
John McKay, United States Attorney for the Western District of
Washington, Thomas B. Heffelfinger, United States Attorney for
the District of Minnesota, R. Scott Crabtree, Acting Special Agent
in Charge, Seattle Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI), and Wallace Shields, Special Agent in Charge, Seattle Field
Division of the United States Secret Service (USSS), announced
that JEFFREY LEE PARSON, age 18, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was
arrested today on a one count Complaint filed in Seattle, Washington.
The Complaint charges that JEFFREY LEE PARSON intentionally caused
and attempted to cause damage to a protected computer, in violation
of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1030(a)(5)(A)(i), 1030(a)(5)(B)(i),
1030(b), and 1030(c)(4)(A), and Section 2. JEFFREY LEE PARSON faces
a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine
on this charge.
The Complaint alleges that JEFFREY LEE PARSON knowingly developed
and released onto the Internet the B variant of the Blaster computer
worm. (This variant is referred to by a number of different names
including "W32/Lovesan.worm.b".) This variant infected at least
7,000 individual Internet users' computers, turned those computers
into drones that attacked or attempted to attack Microsoft and,
in particular, its web site www.windowsupdate.com. As a result,
JEFFREY LEE PARSON intentionally caused significant damage, without
authorization, to Microsoft, and other victim computers that significantly
exceeds the $5,000.00 threshold set forth in Title 18, United States
Code, Section 1030(a)(5)(B)(i).
JEFFREY LEE PARSON had an initial appearance today on the complaint
in the Federal District Court for the District of Minnesota.
"The Blaster computer worm and its variants wreaked havoc on the
Internet, and cost businesses and computer users substantial time
and money. Cyber hacking is not joy riding. Hacking disrupts lives
and victimizes innocent people across the nation, " said Attorney
General John Ashcroft. "The Department of Justice takes these crimes
very seriously, and we will devote every resource possible to tracking
down those who seek to attack our technological infrastructure.
I congratulate the U. S. Attorneys Offices in the Western District
of Washington and Minnesota, the Computer Crime and Intellectual
Property Section of the Criminal Division, the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and the United
States Secret Service for their excellent work on this case. Today's
arrest is a prime example of how federal agencies can work together
to combat computer crime."
United States Attorney John McKay commended the Washington Cyber
Task Force on their speedy and effective investigation. He also
thanked Microsoft Corporation for its assistance to law enforcement. "Computer
hackers try to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to commit
crime. However, as a result of the excellent work of the Washington
Cyber Task Force and other law enforcement agencies around the
country, and the timely cooperation of Microsoft Corporation, law
enforcement was able to quickly identify PARSON and stop his malicious
U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Tom Heffelfinger commented, "This
case is a good example of how effectively and quickly law enforcement
and prosecutors can work together and cooperate on a national level.
I especially want to commend the fine work of the FBI and Secret
Service task force, the Minnesota Cyber Crime Task Force, in Minneapolis,
a special squad of highly trained agents that are dedicated to
investigating all varieties of computer related crimes. Their collaboration
with their counterparts in Seattle demonstrates clearly the government's
commitment to aggressively responding to cyber crime. I further
want to commend the efforts of specially trained cyber crime prosecutors
in Minneapolis and Seattle for their role in the detection and
solution of this case."
Secret Service Director Ralph Basham stated, "The Secret Service's
participation in this investigation - with the U.S. Attorney's
Office, the FBI, and Microsoft - is about sharing information and
resources in an effort to enhance our abilities to investigate
high-tech crimes committed against private industry, the public
and the government. On behalf of the Secret Service, I want to
commend the hard work of those individuals and agencies involved
in this investigation."
"Malicious code like Blaster can cause millions of dollars worth
of damage and can even jeopardize human life if certain computer
systems are infected," said FBI Assistant Director Jana Monroe,
Cyber Division. "That is why we are spending a lot of time and
effort investigating these cases. The FBI has placed investigating
Cyber Crime as one of the top three priorities of the FBI behind
counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations."
United States Attorney John McKay, FBI Seattle Acting Special
Agent in Charge R. Scott Crabtree, and USSS Special Agent in Charge
Wallace Shields emphasized that this is an on-going investigation. "Other
versions of the Blaster computer worm were released onto the Internet
over the last few weeks. Law enforcement is continuing its investigation
into the person or persons who were involved in that activity.
We encourage anyone with information concerning this matter to
contact the FBI and/or the USSS."
This case was investigated by the Washington Cyber Task Force
which includes local law enforcement in the Western District of
Washington and the Seattle Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
and the Seattle Division of the United States Secret Service. The
Washington Cyber Task Force received assistance from numerous other
law enforcement agencies across the United States including, in
particular, the Minneapolis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
and the Minneapolis Division of the United States Secret Service.
Assistant United States Attorneys Floyd G. Short and Annette L.
Hayes are prosecuting the case.
The public is reminded that a complaint contains allegations of
criminal conduct that must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt,
and that a defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty at
For further information, please contact John Hartingh, Executive
Assistant United States Attorney, at (206) 553-4110.