Blaster trial set for November 17

Minnesota teen pleads not guilty

The Minnesota teenager accused of unleashing a variant of the Blaster worm pleaded not guilty yesterday to a federal charge that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

Jeffrey Lee Parson, 18, of Hopkins, Minnesota, said little during his first appearance in a Seattle courtroom yesterday other than to confirm his age and identity, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. His lawyers entered a not-guilty plea to a charge of "intentionally causing damage to a protected computer" on his behalf.

Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler pencilled in a trial date for November 17. The trial is due to take place in Seattle because Microsoft is seen as the principal "victim" in the case. Variants of the worm were programmed to flood windowsupdate.com with spurious traffic.

Since his August 29 release, Parson has been placed under house arrest and banned from using a computer. Judge Theiler relaxed these conditions slightly, allowing him to leave his house in order to go to work, extending a previous exemption that allowed him to attend school.

Investigators allege that during interview Parson admitted modifying the origin Blaster worm to create a variant, Blaster-B, which infected 7,000 computers. Parson claims the authorities have exaggerated the case against him.

Parson is one of two people charged with releasing low-spreading variants of the Blaster worm. Dan Dumitru Ciobanu, 24, faces similar charges to Romania.

Neither Blaster-B nor Blaster-F, allegedly created by Parson and Ciobanu respectively, had anything like the impact of the original Blaster worm, which infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide. The original authors of the Blaster worm remain unknown. ®

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