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DOCUMENT: phage #155 [NYT/Wines: FBI investigating computer VIRUS case.] (1 message, 1765 bytes)
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From: firstname.lastname@example.org (the tty of Geoff Goodfellow)
Date: Tue 11:02:47 08/11/1988 EST
Subject: NYT/Wines: FBI investigating computer VIRUS case.
References: [Thread Prev: 154] [Thread Next: 156] [Message Prev: 154] [Message Next: 162]
A3656 7-Nov-88 18:23 FBI INVESTIGATING COMPUTER `VIRUS' CASE By MICHAEL WINES c.1988 N.Y. Times News Service= WASHINGTON _ The Federal Bureau of Investigation began an official criminal investigation Monday of the computer ``virus'' that crippled a nationwide Pentagon data network last week, and officials indicated that a decision on whether to prosecute the author of the renegade computer program was near. Charles Steinmetz, a spokesman for the bureau, said an informal inquiry into the computer incident over the weekend uncovered ``enough elements there for the Federals to investigate it officially'' as a probable criminal act. ``The matter is high priority,'' said Milt Ahlerich, the FBI's chief spokesman. A second law-enforcement official indicated, however, that it was unclear whether the implanting of the virus in the Arpanet data network, which brought 6,000 computer terminals to an electronic standstill last Wednesday, could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a felony. The man suspected of planting the virus in a Cornell University computer terminal, Robert Tappan Morris, 23, a graduate student at Cornell University, appeared briefly with his father outside his parents' home in Arnold, Md., Monday afternoon, but declined to discuss the incident. It was the first time he had been seen in public since his name was linked to the computer virus on Saturday. Morris' father, Robert T. Morris Sr., is the chief computer scientist for the National Computer Security Center near Baltimore, the federal agency responsible for protecting classified data and other national security information stored in computers. Speaking outside his home, he said that ``everything I have heard indicates that there was no intent of damage'' when the virus was set loose in the Arpanet system. Monday the younger Morris retained a Washington lawyer, Thomas A. Guidoboni, to handle legal issues stemming from the incident. ``We have notified the federal authorities of our representation and his whereabouts,'' Guidoboni said in a statement. ``We are in the process of investigating the facts and circumstances which have been reported by the press in order to determine our course of action.'' The FBI investigation of the younger Morris centers on potential violations of a recent law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. The law makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and up to a year in jail, to knowingly use a government computer without authorization and to disrupt its normal operation. A second violation is a felony and can be punished by a fine and up to 10 years in jail. Under a second law being studied by federal officials in the case, the use of a government computer to commit fraud is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in prison. No one has been prosecuted under the 1986 law. One federal law-enforcement official familiar with the statute said it was unclear whether the law applied to the virus incident because no fraud or damage appears to have occurred and because it was uncertain whether the person who created the virus intended to plant it in government computer terminals. -------
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