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Sympathy for teekid?

Reading articles like http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/08/31/BU226337.DTL&type=business , I'm starting to believe that there are a number of people taking pity on the "teekid" script kiddie who altered the Blaster virus.

Sorry, but I have no sympathy for the guy. I say nail his ass. Is it just me? Am I a heartless bastard? Or do others agree?

Nick
Sunday, August 31, 2003

I have no sympathy for teekid.

However, I also have very little sympathy for people affected by the virus.

Maybe I'm just not very sympathetic?

dude
Sunday, August 31, 2003

I don't have any sympathy for him, but I don't think he should be locked up for life either.

Rather than jail time I think a more appropriate punishment might be to force him into 2000 hours community service doing PC support for all the clueless computer owners out there that get really screwed by things like this. Or get him teaching Windows 98 to the over 70s.

Damian
Sunday, August 31, 2003

I agree, jail will only take an otherwise possible smart kid and make him think he is a hero (my opinion).

Getting him to put his skills to a good use may make him realise that there are better way to use talent... At least it would be an attempt a rehabilitation....

An Aussie Chick
Sunday, August 31, 2003

But then, each new virus like those do everyone a favor by showing that security should not be an after-thought...

Frederic Faure
Sunday, August 31, 2003

Modifying a virus doesn't make you smart; it makes you stupid, regardless of your perceived intelligence by your peers. Agreed, though, jail will do him no good - however, a ban from computers for X years would REALLY drive him insane. So that's a more optimal 'punishment'.

Mickey Petersen
Sunday, August 31, 2003

Also, having skimmed the article, I must say that is the worst biased drivel i've ever heard from a so-called "news source". If that guy has a journalist education, then I'd hope someone who severely cripple him for writing such news. tsk.

Mickey Petersen
Sunday, August 31, 2003

the kid is not dangerous, why jail him? if he'd mugged a granny then fair enough, stolen something valuable then fine, but all he did was run a program.

I just dont see it, if you dont want to be hacked then either (a) Dont user windows or (b) Update windows every time a patch compes out and hope for the best.

Punishing this kid is like punishing some poor halfwit who wandered into someones house when they left the door open and ate some of their food.....
<g> a _truly_ fitting punishment would be to give him a job at a computer help desk somewhere....let him learn the meaning of the word pain...

FullNameRequired
Sunday, August 31, 2003

I don't understand-- is writing a virus or worm now illegal?

I thought it was only illegal to deploy one.

Matt
Sunday, August 31, 2003

I just don't understand the mentality that justifies releasing a virus. All the crap about that this is a harmless offence, MS shouldn't write unsecure software, and people should install patches just baffles me.

First off, it's not a harmless offence - viruses result in lost productivity. To me, that's tantamount to stealing thousands and even millions of dollars. And yes, MS should write secure software and people should install patches. But in my mind that has nothing to do with the moral decision to release a virus.

If you are willing to take part in an action that could potentially bring the US economy to its knees for a few days, then you should face hard time. The Blast-B variant didn't do this, but the next virus, worm, or trojan could. I not trying to be histrionic here, but I do think that writing and spreading viruses isn't just "hijinks". It's expensive.

I say put the kid in Cell Block B and have Bubba bitch-slap him around for a few years. That'd be a better anti-virus deterent than the money I have to spend on Norton or McAffee every year.

Nick
Monday, September 01, 2003

Hi Nick,

this is an interesting topic I think...

"First off, it's not a harmless offence - viruses result in lost productivity. To me, that's tantamount to stealing thousands and even millions of dollars"

well...really it _is_ a harmless offence, no one gets hurt all that happens is a few companies lose a few dollars for downtime.
Certainly I would make a distinction between a virus or worm that wipes all its infected harddrives and one like blaster which basically did no harm to anyone except for a little lost time and the cost of a few new computers for microsoft.

really....when people warble on about the huge crime of piracy, or the millions of dollars of lost productivity from a worm like blaster my first thought is that the y need to get a sense of perspective.
I was beaten up and robbed when I was 25, spent 4 days in hospital and had 407 stitches, now _that_ was a crime.
In the news tonight some fraudster robbed an old lady of her life savings by tricking her into giving out her atm pin over the phone and then stealing her card.  _that_ was a crime.
Almost every real crime I can think of makes the blaster seem like a mostly harmless pain in the bum (because, lets face it, thats exactly what it was).  I had to spend a few extra stressed hours installing the fix in the 3 wintel based businesses I provide support for, and that was about it.

Sure blaster was annoying and frustrating, and sure a bunch of companies lost a bunch of time and money fixing it, but so what?  Im not at all convinced its worthwhile locking away an 18 yr old idiot because a few sys admins had to work some overtime.

FullNameRequired
Monday, September 01, 2003

I think it shows how much the public value the internet: most people think that the FBIs big badge-flashing sirens-sounding swoop on this kid is way out of proportion with his crime, which for most people is not something they've heard about.  An internet worm?  Whats that?

Even those who've been hit aren't likely to care very much.  Nor want some kid jailed for years.  This kid hasn't hurt them very economically, at least in their eyes.

This forum is the anti-public in this respect.  We are all internet gurus who take the kiddie's invasion of _our_ networks as a personal affront and a trespass.  So we beat chests and declare him worse than a robber or whatever (not sure what crimes get what response in USA etc, but you get my point).

Script kiddies are scratching their itch.  When I was first introduced to computer programming, I was young enough to be be bored and unoccupied, and I did look around the school's network rather more than I should have done.  But I didn't break anything; I felt more protective about it because I knew it better than the admin; in a sense I felt I _owned_ it.  Silly Silly Silly.  But I can see where the same kind of juvenile bordom could have lead to me being a script kiddie instead.  Or if someone had asked me to prove it, showing my 'control' of that school network.  I guess that at least some of you in this forum had a similiar kind of aimless interest in computers that got you into this profession?

So what I think script kiddies need is a counter-culture.  A new 'hackers' culture.  A more general internet community that accepts them and fits them in in the same way the script kiddie culture does now.  But this one, obviously, because it was populated by responsible adults giving their time to teach and lead these kids, would be less into proving your control of the internet etc.

Why aren't the kids at risk of becoming sucked into the script-kiddie culture in your neighbourhood members of the local LUG or coders club or whatever?  Why aren't they being encouraged in more useful computing skills?  Why aren't you helping with all this??

If I bump into script-kiddie-tendancies in a kid - and if you see enough forums like this you find enough people at risk - I point them at the http://project.honeynet.org/ site and get them into scratching that itch from the other side.  I hope I help them..

(sorry for long passionate post)

i like i
Monday, September 01, 2003

I'd feel sympathetic towards any poor person who looked like that kid, whether the looks are self inflicted, or simply nature's way of balancing out the beautiful people.

HeWhoMustBeConfused
Monday, September 01, 2003

Some naive teenager writes a virus and gets up to ten years.

An Arthur Andersen accountant causes lots of people to lose millions, and gets a slap on the wrist. Some real estate liar steals money from an innocent buyer and gets salesman of the year award.

It shows who the laws are there to serve.

.
Monday, September 01, 2003

Good point above, but intent isn't the only factor (or a factor at all, at least in guilt).  I don't know how anyone can say virus-writing is a victimless crime -- that's ridiculous, even if it is not meant to destroy data.

Both my office and my roommate's were held up for an entire morning, couldn't work at all... multiply that across thousands of companies, and that's a huge productivity loss.  Not to mention all the poor IT workers who got slammed for not installing the patch!  It's pretty much the same as someone stealing a hundred dollars per employee out of their bank account, which is a lot.  If someone did that, would you say it's not really a crime?

But I would say that this kid probably got the short end of the stick, since he was the one dumb enough to get caught, and he was just piggybacking on back of this big thing with all this media coverage.  I read in some article that he modified the virus to upload info to his own website (registered with his name and such).  Maybe the judge will go easy on him for stupidity.  : )

Andy
Monday, September 01, 2003

"Computer virus creators rarely face jail":

http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/internet/08/30/hacker.penalties.ap/index.html

I think the guy should do some serious jail time. If script kiddies knew for certain they'd end up in prison as somebody's girlfriend and have their poopchute become someone else's personal playground, they'd be a hell of a lot less likely to unleash viruses on the rest of us.

LockHimUp
Monday, September 01, 2003

Oops, the full URL is:

http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/internet/08/30/hacker.penalties.ap/index.html

LockHimUp
Monday, September 01, 2003

Crap, the URL keeps getting truncated, it ends as follows:

/hacker.penalties.ap/index.html

LockHimUp
Monday, September 01, 2003

I still say a fine + no touching computers for 10 years would do the trick. What could be a worse crime(short of jail sentencing) for a guy like that? Heck, he might just lose a few of those pounds he has.

Mickey Petersen
Monday, September 01, 2003

I'm suprised at the people picking on the kid cause he's fat. As there's a high percentage of computer professionals here, I'd imagine that most of them would now what's it's like to be stigmatised at that age, be it because you were a nerd, unatheletic, brainy, played chess, not white, wore braces, who-cares-adolescants-are-cruel...

I'm sure a lot of you rebelled against the social structures that oppressed you in one way or the other, be it by taking drugs, getting into trouble, spraypainting the school, letting the air out of peoples tires, toiletpapering trees ... any number of small-time criminal activities. In my opinion, that's exactly what the kid did. Should he be punished for it? Sure. But he should be punished the same way some caught setting fire to a garbage can or doing graffiti is punished and not like someone "stealing" millions of dollars (of "productivity" whatever that is).

I believe Microsoft does have to owe up to a little bit of responsibility for this as well. If Windows were more secure, non if this would have been possible. Sysadminis that don't keep their system updated are also at fault. If an arsonist burns down a building, he's at fault along with the people who ignored firecodes, stole fireextinguishers, ignored smoke coming out of the building, didn't call the fire department, parked in front of hydrants...

a2800276
Monday, September 01, 2003

Hey, we all make screwups. I'm not heightening myself -- or others for that matter! -- beyond these things. We've all done crap in our past, and most of us(well, me, anyway) got due punishment for our actions.
  When he made the virus(rather, stole it and modified it) he also knew what he was getting in to. He's 18.

While I'd love to be lenient and say: "Hey, you know what? You didn't do that much damage. Why don't you walk off w/o any form of punishment" - but that'd just mean that the judicial system only jails "some" cases and not others. Regardless of the semantics, he did damage to property and should pay for it in time served, fining, banning his use of computers or whatever.

The second we give these guys a finger they'll sweep in and take an arm. While I never agreed with the sentiment that doing hard time would do any good, I do feel some other form of punishment should be used.
I've already said what *I* wanted to see happen.

Mickey Petersen
Monday, September 01, 2003

I'd be much more worried about patents than some virus writer who didn't even seem to do as much damage as he could have.  But teekid's a visible evil, whose appearance is quite a few std deviations from the norm, while those who file trivial patents are just a group of respectable businessmen trying to make a little bit of money.  I think our sense of values are wrong.

anonymous
Monday, September 01, 2003

"I'd be much more worried about patents than some virus writer who didn't even seem to do as much damage as he could have. "


good point.  Patents _will_ over time screw up this industry more than a virus writer could hope to do..

FullNameRequired
Monday, September 01, 2003

"I'm sure a lot of you rebelled against the social structures that oppressed you in one way or the other,"

Look, people in a lot of countries get tortured in ways that make me nauseous just to think about, for making a joke about a political leader or even just not being sufficiently enthusiastic.  Kids in Iran right now are taking knives to the gut for criticizing authority.  Now THAT is oppression.

As Americans, I'm sure there were things we perceived as oppression as teenagers, but I would hope we're mature enough to be over it as adults.  And I hope we're mature enough to realize that whatever criminal mischief we got involved in at that age was, at the very least, a pain in the butt for those who had to clean up after us.

And if there's an implied :) in your post, sorry for taking it too seriously.

Jim Rankin
Monday, September 01, 2003

One more general note:  the sum damage to the economy as a whole probably means some people here and there who would have been hired aren't because of the damage to profits, etc. caused by having to clean up this mess.  Which means someone out there might be evicted from their home because of a chain of events set off by that worm.

That's why crimes like this are worth taking seriously, although jail time may still not be the best answer.

Jim Rankin
Monday, September 01, 2003

To "FullNameRequired": There certainly was a crime committed because, like it or not, thousands of businesses were affected and billions of dollars of productivity were stolen. Time is money my friend. Simply saying that a few admins worked overtime is not accurate.

I fully support caning and community service for perps like this. First of all, they need to be an example. Being someone's love slave in the slammer is nice, but I would prefer a good old fashioned caning on cable TV. Imagine the script kiddies watching this kid scream. I also think that his talents should not be wasted. How about 5 years of mandatory service, building programs for the educational system that is sorely in need of real IT skills (if he has any).

StickyWicket
Monday, September 01, 2003

Hi StickyWicket,

"To "FullNameRequired": There certainly was a crime committed because, like it or not, thousands of businesses were affected and billions of dollars of productivity were stolen. Time is money my friend. Simply saying that a few admins worked overtime is not accurate."

billions?  interesting statistic.

This game of adding up heaps of small amounts and saying "look, its a huge problem because the sum total of all the damages is such a large amount" has vaguely baffled me for a while....
<g> but I can play...

Its tuesday morning here, Im guessing that makes it...maybe monday early afternoon there?

Shouldn't you be at work?  or are you at work and browsing the internet, posting to forums from there?  How many people are doing this across the world?  is it a _huge_ problem because the total time wasted is worth billions?  is it the equivalent of theft from your company?....

Do you deserve to go to jail?

FullNameRequired
Monday, September 01, 2003

"I fully support caning and community service for perps like this. First of all, they need to be an example. Being someone's love slave in the slammer is nice, but I would prefer a good old fashioned caning on cable TV. Imagine the script kiddies watching this kid scream. I also think that his talents should not be wasted. How about 5 years of mandatory service, building programs for the educational system that is sorely in need of real IT skills (if he has any)."


actually I really should have paid more attention to the rest of your post....sorry about that...

Im on your side :)  This suggested punishment is _entirely_ appropriate IMO a public caning followed by 5 years mandatory service in the education sector is a bloody good idea...

FullNameRequired
Monday, September 01, 2003

FullNameRequired: Even though you're trying to debate (or play along), I do in fact agree with you. Everything that takes aways from "productivity" is bad. However, we're not simply talking about my "posting while on the job" or even about many people doing the same. What if there was something that involuntarily caused all of us to post to a blog throughout the day. I'll bet that the corporate world would be looking into this tomorrow. Considering that the worms were intentional and malicious only makes this worse. In other words, if you nickel and dime someone that's one thing. If you nickel and dime someone a million times over on purpose, that's another.

StickyWicket
Monday, September 01, 2003

Fullnamerequired,

Shouldn't you be at work?  or are you at work and browsing the internet, posting to forums from there?  How many people are doing this across the world?  is it a _huge_ problem because the total time wasted is worth billions?  is it the equivalent of theft from your company?....

Do you deserve to go to jail?



Pardon me, but I do not understand your rhetoric.

You're saying that, because someone does useless things in their work time they should go to jail? There's a difference between voluntary and involuntary free time -- former is interim breaks and the latter would be something like the damages Blaster caused.
If I decide I want to waste company time on surfing the web, then I will - because that is my decision to do so. Or, should I decide to go to the washroom, then that, too, would be my own decision. However, in your world that, too, would be a felony since it detracts from the overall time you dedicate to your company.

What's not my decision is when someone sends out a worm bent on destruction(because that WAS his intent) followed by some 'elite' bragging on IRC or whatever medium he used.

You're responsible for your own actions -- and each action has a consequence. If you feel the it's worth the risk, then by all means go ahead.
I guess he felt the "coolness" factor in modding this worm was a great thing to do, but he'll learn.

Mickey Petersen
Monday, September 01, 2003

I think the point was that people never analyze themselves or even think.  I've been noticing a trend over the last years of Americans barbarously clamoring for rape -- and it happens so commonly I think it's stopped being a joke -- for someone who inconveniences them on a network that was never meant to be as stable as electricity or the phone system.  The internet is a community, without a warranty.  People who move in and choose to make money on it are missing the point if they think they can connect to it with any machine and never be bothered.

anonymous
Monday, September 01, 2003

seems to me that there are some interesting hairs being split here.
If a companies time is wasted, and that productivity is lost, what does the company care whether that productivity is lost because of an employees decision or the decision of someone outside of the company?

seems to me (as an employer) that its a worse crime for an employee to deliberately take my money and piss about with it than it is for someone else to cause my employee to work harder.

Actually, I personally dont care much so long as the time spent is reasonable, but if I was forced to choose between my employees pissing their time away by their own choice, or someone else forcing them to piss their time away, seems to me Id rather the second.....at least that way I know Ive hired useful people.

bobbyblue
Monday, September 01, 2003

Hi Sticky,

"In other words, if you nickel and dime someone that's one thing. If you nickel and dime someone a million times over on purpose, that's another."

well...I agree.  Seems to me that the blaster worm nickel and dimed a million _different people_ once only....

So which thing is that?

FullNameRequired
Monday, September 01, 2003

i concur with anonymous, it is very disturbing to read that a multitude of internet users think that anal rape is a fitting punishment for any crime. If the virus author was a 18 year old girl, would making her "poop chute someone's personal playground" be an appropriate comment?

devil's advocate
Monday, September 01, 2003

bobbyblue,

If you think that your employees do not use their time -- and now I assume that they're software developers -- then you won't have very productive or very happy employees.
I for one need 10 mins here and there to disconnect my mind from my work and surf the web, and if I find that my employer hit down hard on those that did, then I would consider switching jobs.

Mickey Petersen
Monday, September 01, 2003

Devil's - it's not that anal rape is a fitting punishment. It's that the FEAR of anal rape should be an amazing deterrent to the average young geek.

While many say that prison isn't a deterrent for many hardened criminals, it should work just fine for the average virus writer.

And as for
"I believe Microsoft does have to owe up to a little bit of responsibility for this as well. If Windows were more secure, non if this would have been possible"

You *are* aware that the average home can be broken into in under five minutes, right? Imagine coming home to a burglarized house (or a murdered family member (!!!)) and having the police say "Well, there's really not much we can do. I mean just LOOK at all those easily breakable windows. You were certainly asking for it, my friend. Heck, I'd even say you should be suing the guy that built the house - the people that broke in did you a favor..."

The ease with which a crime can be committed does not make it any less a crime.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I can feel some sympathy for the boy's situation, but at the same time I do feel sympathy for society.

Yes, t33kid was caught where thousands of others were not, but does this not hold for many types of crime? Yes, maybe he did not fully grasp the consequences of his actions, but is that also not the case a serious percentage of criminals?

What we need to balance here is on the one hand the "fairness" to the individual (what do we do to get this guy to perticipate more appropriately within our society while repecting his personality) with the comon needs (how can this arrest help us stem the onlaught of this type of crime).

If all that would count is the individual one might say "hey, he seems to grasp now what were the consequences of his actions, and it is unlikely he will do it again. We'll just give hime some chores helping these old folks with alzheimers using computers for communication and rememberance and he'll be OK".
If all that would count would be the common good then one might argue "Put him on the chair. That will be the most effective deterrant to future virus writers".

Now we need to balance these things.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

And as for
"I believe Microsoft does have to owe up to a little bit of responsibility for this as well. If Windows were more secure, non if this would have been possible"
...
The ease with which a crime can be committed does not make it any less a crime.

Nowhere did I say that it made it any less a crime for the kid who wrote the virus. I said Microsoft is -partly- responsible for the effects of the virus. Strangely nobody sees any problems with car manufacturers, pharmaceutical, food, cigarette ... companies,  to be held liable for the safety of their products and hold them  responsible for the consequences of their product's use, but heaven forbid software companies should be held responsible for their mediocre products.

a2800276
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

And in this case exactly what would you hold the company liable for? The fact the OS allows the users to run email programs that can handle MIME attachements? The fact that the OS allows the user to run programs? The fact that the OS allows the user to run programs that can communicate over the Internet?

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

1) If Linux was on 90% of the world's computers, everyone would be hacking that system and virii/worms would still be a problem. How silly to blame Microsoft, a company that invented some pretty large holes, but does more than almost any other company to make sure they are closed. WindowsUpdate gives you one place to go for quality patches.

2) If I owned a company, I would understand that my employees need to take breaks every so often. This could be a 10 minute smoke break every 1-2 hours or a web surfing excursion every 30 minutes or whatever. If it got out of hand, I could do something about it because they are all under my control. However, if some malicious kid with a lot of time on his hands decides to take my company down for a few hours, well, that is NOT under my control. Thus, I can easily make a statutory or a civil case against this person.

3) Thanks to Philo for some sane comments.

StickyWicket
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

If I may be sarcastic for a moment...

According to FoxNews, this kid was caught when his virus talked to his website -- I'm guessing to get a count of how many computers he'd infected.  The kid doesn't need to be jailed, he needs to be shot.  That kind of stupid should be culled from IT. ;)

Andrew Burton
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I wouldn’t like to see this boy in jail... These kids are naives but not criminals. 
On the other hand, I don’t think our PCs should end up as a playground for all the wannabe hackers out there. If this “teekid” don’t get punished somehow, there are millions of “teekids” out there that would love to play with your PC. Let’s face it, people are working on their PCs and making a living from it. They can not handle to spend a few hours every day to clean up the mess.

A lot of people says that it’s Microsoft’s fault for not securing Windows.
I can’t understand this…sorry. It’s very easy to break my car’s window because Ford didn’t make it to strong. If you break my car's window and take control over my car…should I blame Ford for that?
Ok take my car and leave, I'll put Ford in jail.

Sorry for my English :-)   

Geroge B
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Oops! Philo said the "window" example already :)

Geroge B
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Anil has made an excellent post regd this.

http://www.dashes.com/anil/


Philo, you are absolutely correct.

Prakash S
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

There are federal computer intrustion laws that govern releasing worms that invade systems without authorization. Teekid violated the law just as much as the original worm author did.

It's not "this guy did [x] amount damage while Teekid did [y] amount" - they both broke the same laws.

I sincerely think that if Teekid did it with intent (as opposed to doing it accidentally, which I can see happening), then he should go to a medium security prison for a year with five years in a maximum security prison suspended (if he breaks the law again within five years, he automatically serves the five years).

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

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