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Microsoft

Microsoft Drops Blaster Author's Fine 312

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the slap-on-the-wrist dept.
bevo noted that Microsoft has dropped their fine against the author of the Blaster worm that DDoS'd Microsoft's web sites and hijaacked 50,000 computers. 225 hours instead of a 500k fine. $2200/hour seems like a good deal to me ;)
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Microsoft Drops Blaster Author's Fine

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  • by fembots (753724) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:48PM (#12104509) Homepage
    Luckily the community service cannot involve computers, otherwise this guy will get away lightly by cleaning up roughly 50 spyware/virus-infected Windows machines to clock up 225 hours.
    • In Bill Gate's eyes, 225 hours of service worth alot more than $500,000...that's pocket change ;)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        It's been said Bill Gates makes over $1,000 every ten seconds. So it's more like $81 million for 225 hours.
    • Get away lightly? (Score:5, Informative)

      by caryw (131578) <carywiedemann&gmail,com> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:26PM (#12104896) Homepage
      This kid still has to do 18 months in prison! 18 months! 13,128 hours! (linked from the same site [betanews.com])
      18 months is almost 10% of the time this kid has even been on the planet!
      Microsoft just helped him out by letting him live his life once he gets out of prison instead of being in debt for the next 40 years.
      I bet it's extremely hard for a convicted felon to work off a $500,000 debt.
      --
      Fairfax Underground: For residents of Fairfax County and Northern Virginia [fairfaxunderground.com]
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:28PM (#12104916)
      My understanding of "fine" is that of a penalty imposed by the state in a criminal case. In the case of a civil action I think the term "damages" is used.

      Microsoft is getting pretty big and powerful and can push the DOJ around, but I don't think they're yet in the position to fine people.

    • I always thought that a good community service activity was shoveling elephant poop at the zoo. 225 hours of poo shoveling would give this person some perspective as to the aguish they have caused! :-)
    • by spagetti_code (773137) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:22PM (#12105369)
      MS would never have seen a bean of that money. First there's the jail time. Then you've got an unemployed teenager with a criminal record and no tertiary education who will, if he finds someone to employ him, probably make minimum wage.

      It certainly is a PR move. Remember, almost everything MS does is a PR move because they are now first and foremost a great marketing company.

      So its a good move on their behalf - chase some loser for 500K and never see a bean, or offer 'foregiveness' out of the bottom of their hearts.

  • by plover (150551) * on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:49PM (#12104516) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said the sentence reflected that although he was 18 at the time of the attack, his maturity level was much younger than that. She also said his home life contributed to the problem.

    Damn, that precedent means virtually everyone here on /. is immune from prosecution. For anything. Especially since "mom's basement" probably qualifies as a "home life".

  • Drops the fine? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nolife (233813) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:50PM (#12104541) Homepage Journal
    How can MS "fine" someone? Are they really that close to the government now that they can hand out their own judgement and punishment?
    • Re:Drops the fine? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eradicator2k3 (670371) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:58PM (#12104642)
      That was *probably* a poor word choice. I would imagine that the $500K "fine" actually was damages awarded to MS. MS does have the option to recommend that the court replace the awarded damages (of which they would only see a fraction) with community service. IANAL, however and this is mere speculation on my part.
    • Re:Drops the fine? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hollins (83264)
      If you look at the power wielded by the BSA [bsa.org], of which Microsoft seems the biggest beneficiary, it's clear that for all practical purposes, Microsoft is the government.
      • Ummm, what power does the BSA wield? I'm talking about real power, not just what is in their own heads and PR?

        • Re:Drops the fine? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Hollins (83264) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:33PM (#12104959) Homepage
          Based on anonymous tips, typically from disgruntled employees, the BSA can force a company to allow the BSA to perform an on-site software audit on behalf of its members. Audits usually result in the BSA demanding large payments for unlicensed software, plus penalties. Companies have found that losing receipts, packaging, etc. is no defense.

          These tactics are firmly established in a number of court precedents, to such an extent that fighting the BSA in court is usually futile and only adds expense.

          Even if a company is diligent in paying for software licenses, the cost of compiling documentation and escorting auditors can be expensive.

          About once a year here in Chicago, the BSA runs radio ads against software piracy, along with encouragements to employees to call their anonymous tip line.

          Now it may be completely ethical and legitimate for the BSA to act in this way, but it basically affords them governmental enforcement authority.
      • by ad0gg (594412)
        Looking at their webpage I noticed both IBM and Apple are members. Where did you find out that Microsoft is the biggest beneficiary, do you have any links? Or are you just pulling it out of your ass? And what power does the BSA hold?
    • Re:Drops the fine? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fjornir (516960) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:59PM (#12104661)
      MS didn't fine the kid, the court ordered him to pay 500k in restition. MS offered to let the kid sweat it off instead of paying cash. This is just a typical shitty slashdot writeup.
      • This is just a typical shitty slashdot writeup.

        Worse than typical: "225 hours instead of a 500k fine." Subject? Verb? Anyone? Bueller?

      • Slashdot only copied a shitty headline.
      • Wasn't just slashdot. The article itself was worded pretty shitty:

        Microsoft has granted clemency to the 19 year-old author of the Blaster worm. Rather than pay $500,000 in restitution, the youth will be sentenced to 225 hours of community service, which may not involve computers.

        That gives the strong impression that Microsoft has the power of clemency and sentencing authority.
    • You mean...the Dancing Monkey Boy...ISN'T President???
    • How can MS "fine" someone ... blah blah ... hand out their own judgement and punishment?

      The article clearly explains what's going on. If you moderate, please ask yourself if you really believe the poster RTFA.
  • by Tribbin (565963) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:51PM (#12104548) Homepage
    ... by replacing himself by a shell script?
  • by r_glen (679664) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:51PM (#12104559)
    This was the guy who modified the Blaster worm. The original author never got caught.
  • by The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:52PM (#12104566)
    ...50,000 people with pwn3d boxes get absolutely nothing. I can't decide if that's complete injustice or exactly what they deserve.

    • by Fjornir (516960) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:56PM (#12104626)
      If you had a box that caught blaster there is nothing preventing you from taking this kid to civil court for damages.
    • No way (Score:3, Funny)

      by oGMo (379)
      Are you kidding? This is perfect. 225 hours of migrating boxes to Linux sounds like a perfect solution for both Microsoft and their customers.

      :-)

    • I didn't get MSblaster, I just have XP. It's like having nothing, but I still had to pay for it.

      I sure am getting what I deserve, though, either way you look at it.

    • I understand that we're actually talking about MSblast here, not Blaster or Nachi, but was the circulation really that low? I daresay that Blaster itself infected nearly 1/4 of student's PC's on our college campus alone. We never actually took data on it, but once it got on the network, the whole thing was down in a couple of hours.
  • The real reason... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sebilrazen (870600) <blahsebilrazen@blah.com> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:53PM (#12104572)
    Billy boy dropped the fine was that he saw some of himself in the boy, totally ripping off someone elses work, rebranding it and sending out the door. It was just a variant, wasn't it?
  • Life just ins't fair....
  • Community Service (Score:3, Interesting)

    by datafr0g (831498) <datafrog@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:55PM (#12104612) Homepage
    The article also contained this:
    Jeffrey Lee Parson, of Minnesota, was sentenced this year to 18 months in prison and 10 hours of community service.

    What the hell is the point of a day's worth of community service when you are also serving 18 months in prison!?
  • by Nevtje(hr (869571) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:56PM (#12104620)
    ...gardening! getting to know the REAL bugs out there!
  • by the_rev_matt (239420) <slashbot@ r e v m a t t .com> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:58PM (#12104644) Homepage
    To all the people screaming "What, MS is part of the government now?":

    The judge determined that the convicted owed MS damages of about $500,000. MS at their own discretion opted to allow him to to do community service in lieu of cash. As long as the agreement is acceptable to both parties, the judge will generally go with it.
    • It's too bad that TFA completely fails to even provide a hint that this is what it is about. In fact, it is impossible to determine what you state from TFA or any of the links within it.
      • Yea, I had to go find the original sentencing news reports to verify. It was a fairly content free article, but that's par for the course for links on /. ;)
  • At least... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by d2_m_viant (811261) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:03PM (#12104703)
    Well, at least this kid didn't get a JOB offer from Microsoft. Seems he wasn't quite as lucky as the kid who hacked into T-Mobile and monitored Secret Service messages, only to get a job offer from them once he was caught...

    ...maybe when he matures and is looking towards real work, he'll consider a lucrative career in hacking government agencies, seems like breaking the law is rewarded nowadays [theregister.co.uk].

    • I wonder if the community service IS the job offer...he'll get to be M$' bitch for 7 months. If his job were to locate security holes in M$ software, that would certainly qualify as a community service.
  • It's not time for the tinfoil hats- yet. Microsoft isn't so close to the government that they can choose his sentence, but they could, if they wanted, ask the judge to reduce the sentence to certain terms that they think are fair.

    Remember though, IANAL

    I think it'd be great for this guy to get out in the sun and clean up graffiti! Maybe it'll build his character enough that he'll realize that making worms to smash Microsoft PCs isn't a cool thing to do- or is it?
  • by kosmosik (654958) <konrad.kosmosik@net> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:16PM (#12104818) Homepage
    Really. They just got some good press. And it is better to have good press worldwide that to have some teen own you $0,5M which he probably would never pay to them at all...
  • by Anonymous Luddite (808273) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:16PM (#12104819)

    Helping Bill Gates with his first Gentoo install..
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:29PM (#12104922)
    seems like a good deal to me

    It may be a good deal to the criminal in this case, but not to the rest of us computer users who have to put up with this type of worthless scum on a daily basis. If all the worm/virus/adware/spyware/hijack/root kit etc. writers and those who use their products to infect the rest of us were to disappear tomorrow, I, for one, wouldn't miss them for a moment. Life is tough enough already without humans preying on other humans.

    • If all the worm/virus/adware/hijack/root kit etc. writers and those others were to disappear tomorrow, then we'd still be left with all the shoddy programming that was initially left in the programs. These exploits point out the tip of an iceberg which, unchecked, would allow unscrupulous people in power to abuse the users.
  • by SmokeHalo (783772) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:32PM (#12104952)
    ...they should make him apologize, in person, to everyone affected by the worm.
  • They've gotten it wrong from the beginning. He's not the author. He grabbed a copy of the virus, modified some text, and let it loose again, infecting computers that were probably already going to be infected by the original. For that he gets 18 months.
  • by Douglas Simmons (628988) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:40PM (#12105043) Homepage
    The blaster virus must have been the single best thing to happen to the antivirus software industry. And not just the companies in that particular subsector either. Security from viruses, spyware, popups and hacking in general has become a fear around which many companies have started marketing themselves. Take AOL's latest ads, or even non Internet operations like credit card companies and their new gimmick innovations against identity theft.

    Just like how Bush has been accurately criticized for capitalizing on fear to push his agenda, many companies are now benefiting from fear in this context. Hell yes it was a bitch to deal with Blaster and friends, but I got paid cash money to remove it from a lot of people's computers. One time got some ass from it. So to those of us who are fans of capitalism and consumerism, or ass maybe, this is a Good Thing, and the economy has been helped more than it has been hurt by crap like this.

  • What a shock! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TiggertheMad (556308) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:46PM (#12105094) Homepage Journal
    So, MS isn't going to try to extract several hundred thousand dollars from someone with no money or prospect of getting that sort of money, because it would cost more to hire a thug to shake down the punk than they would get. Hmmm.

    See, MS can make a good decision on occasion...
  • "Microsoft has granted clemency"

    What power does Microsoft have to grant clemency? The court decideds guilt and sentences, including fines and remedies. I could see Microsoft declining restitution, but who gives Microsoft the power to decide whether a guilty party is punished by labor, rather than a fine?
    • This is how these things work sometimes - in a case such as this, if an agreement/settlement is reached between the two parties, the judge will usually go along with it.

      Both sides made a good decision here. MS knew they weren't going to get that sheer amount of money from this kid, and he probably didn't want to have every paycheck for the rest of his life have a percentage of 'Microsoft Tax' trimmed off to go towards paying it off, so they sat down and reached an agreement - the side that was wronged ge
  • Back in the days when worms were an AI experiment and Core Wars were respectful contests, I would never have anticipated the morons who have made so many administrators' lives more hectic. I say he should be blinded and his hands cut off.
  • by Trelane (16124) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:57PM (#12105196) Journal
    a new worm has emerged which targets Linux exclusively. Reverse-engineering has thus far only revealed the string "!seineew era sreenigne xunil zes rekcah retsalB".

Not only is UNIX dead, it's starting to smell really bad. -- Rob Pike

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