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Blaster-F suspect arrested in Romania

Dan Dumbitru

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Romanian police yesterday arrested a man on suspicion of releasing a variant of the prolific Blaster worm. It's the second arrest of a copycat author of the worm in the last week.

Dan Dumitru Ciobanu, 24, from the northern Romanian city of Iasi, is alleged to have created the relatively tame Blaster-F version of the worm.

Blaster-F, first spotted on September 1, shares the same functionality and active mechanisms as original Blaster worm. The only differences are a change of the virus filename into enbiei.exe, a change in target for the DDoS attack from windowsupdate.com to Iasi's Hydrotechnical University and the addition of a text string within the virus in Romanian criticising the University and one of its professors.

Blaster-F, unlike the original worm which infected hundreds of thousands of Windows PCs, failed to cause much harm. AV vendors describe it as "low spreading and low risk".

According to Romanian AV developer BitDefender, which helped police track down the suspect, Ciobanu, a graduate student at Hydrotechnical, was apprehended while working in a photo developing lab. Police have seized two computers from Ciobanu's home and workplace for forensic examination.

BitDefender says the trail of evidence that led to Ciobanu's arrest was easy to follow. The viral code contained a reference to Ciobanu's nickname "Enbiei" and referred in disparaging terms to one his teachers.

Ciobanu is yet to be charged. Under recently passed Romanian cybercrime law, he faces a prison term of up to 15 years if convicted, according to Mihai Radu, PR manager at Softwin, the parent company of BitDefender.

The Romanian arrest follows that of Minnesota teenager Jeffrey Lee Parson last Friday. Parson is suspected of creating and releasing the Blaster-B variant of the worm. As in the Romanian case, Parson's online nickname "teekid" appeared in the variant of Blaster he is alleged to have created.

The author of the original Blaster worm remains at large. ®

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