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Melissa suspect arrested

CmdrTaco posted more than 15 years ago | from the whatcha-gonna-do-when-they-come-for-you dept.

News 424

Stone Table writes "MSNBC reports that the FBI arrested a suspect believed to have authored the Melissa virus " This is definitely a tricky one: course, its a windows email virus, so it doesn't affect most of us, but he was tracked using the MS GUID. Justice? Big Brother? I'm not sure which.

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What I get (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950931)

> What I get is paid fairly well for a job that's usually pretty easy

Yeah. Until yet another Talking Moon brain-dead-ism comes
along and bites you (and your employer) in the butt. Welcome to the
Real World.

of course there's Federal jurisdiction.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950933)

the very nature of a computer virus would involve the Federal government since it would almost certinately cross state lines.

anyway, seeing as how you don't know any specifics of the case, it's stupid to assume that the media is trying to demonize him. he could very well have pled guilty. you don't know.

Doesn't mean VicodinES did it, here's why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950940)

Assuming this David Smith is VicodinES...
ANYBODY could have used his previous virus as a
template... the GUID stays with the modified
document. It's like if I write a history paper,
and someone else takes my document and changes to
claim that the holocaust never happened (or
whatever) then it will have my GUID on it!
Not only that, but the virus could have been
circulating around for quite a while until it
finally hit a powder keg (one luser using Outlook
with an address book)
I don't want to jump to conclusions so I will
save my conspiracy theories until I hear more.

Too friggin bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950942)

I've had to spend too many extra hours at work over the years because of dickheads like this, rebooting the system of some moron who ignored our policy about opening email attachments or who disabled our virus checkers.

That's What You Get For Using Windows

And that's what you get for dealing with stupid people all day.

Oh, wonderful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950955)

I see it now. US government endorses the Microsoft and Intel serial numbers. Plans on creating a records database for use in criminal investigations...



Why is this a crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950958)

Consider this:
I take several pounds of dynamite, gift wrap it, leave it on your doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run away. You pick up the box, unwrap it, open it, and upon seeing the dynamite, drop the box, which then explodes.

You are stupid. You didn't know who the box was from, but you opened it anyway! You should have expected it was full of dynamite! Why is this a crime? I didn't do anything to hurt you, you blew yourself up!

Dude... by writing and releasing a virus, this guy was intentionally trying to inflict harm on others. There is really only one law; it is "Do no harm." All other laws are attempts to codify what "harm" is and assess damages (usually punitive) for the harm. The author of the virus is criminally and civilly responsible for any harm caused by his intentional actions. If he escapes the criminal prosecution, he can look forward to one hell of a class action suit from every company whose mail server was shut down -- and in an "intentional tort" suit, you can't get out of paying the judgment by filing bankruptcy.

Summary: This guy is fucked. And he deserves to be ! He brought it upon himself by his own malicious and stupid actions. He should be made an example out of, and left slowly twisting in the breeze as a warning to other sociopaths who choose to use their powers for evil, not good.

And you, kind sir, really need to get a life!

Illegal to write a virus, even when _not_ spread? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950969)

or, is it only when it actually spreads,
or, only when it actually does damage,
or, when someone needs a high profile bust?

what was it that was illegal about mellissa?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950971)

I'm sure they can get him for some sort of "malicious intent" charge, not to mention for any systems it 'damaged' (since time == money).

(who isn't logged in all the sudden. strange)

This while thing is such bulls**t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950975)

Go suck eggs- people who do things as you say make life harder than it needs to be for the rest of us- and gives security people heartburn. Do the rest of us a favor and go play in traffic.


Evidence is completely circumstantial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950979)

> However, the unique computer ID is stored in a
> Word document only once -- when the document is
> created. Even if a document is copied to a new
> computer, and saved under a new name, the
> original GUID number does not change.

So to install a fake GUID, all you need to do is start with an open document with the GUID you want, erase ALL OF IT, and start coding.

What is your point?

Free friggin clue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950986)

> I've had to spend too many extra hours at work over the years
> because of dickheads like this

No. Actually you've had to spend too many extra hours at work over the
years because of the deficient products emanating from Talking Moon.
Or did you fail to note that if one wasn't running Ms-Turd,
particularly in conjunction with Ms-LookOut!, one wouldn't have been

This is not to say that what the author of Melissa did wasn't
irresponsible, but the problem, from a practical standpoint, is the
software attacked.

But if you'd prefer to keep your head firmly buried in the sand...

federal computer crimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950987)

Actually, "virii" are potentially useful (an application which has seemed to escape most of damn virus writers posting these things on the net). If you think of them more like "agents", then you could use them to scan the net for data, or to distribute software patches (gene therapy equivalent?). Of course, it would be a lot better if they used an "approved" method of providing agent services which didn't kill the machines they passed through...

What if this had been a real (bio) virus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950995)

Would you feel the same if this guy was a biologist, and released a new deadly virus into the air? So, if your parents got the virus and died, would "they deserve what they get"?

This guy created and released this virus with the sole intent of illegally gaining access to users machines and fucking things up. I say that's pretty damn illegal. Throw the book at him.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1950997)

What did this person do other than write the code and make it publicly available(albeit in binary form only)? The FBI is making a manhunt out of this issue because they are worried that corporate america will get pissed with them. This is more screwed than the Mitnick case.


federal computer crimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951000)

i believe this would be illegal under the Federal Computer Crimes act of whatever year it was passed. i mean, do you think that America would have come this far with technology and not outlawed the spreading of virii?

GOODBYE MS Office! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951007)

I have DELETED MS Office from my computer.
Once I've installed linux, Win95 will be

MegaCorp, not Big Brother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951020)

Oh great, Microsoft which lies, cheats and steals, fakes videos for court cases, makes bogus support groups for media attention, has a corporate policy to fake emails and news messages to slander other's products and increase support for their own...

They have your MSUID. They have more power than a small country. They make their own rules. They are accountable to no one. Are you scared yet?

Who do you want incarcerated today?

high profile bust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951021)

By any chance was this file attached to spam about high profile busts?

Too friggin bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951025)

Perhaps you should be shooting your own ignorant users. Don't go into a brothel without a condom and then complain that you got some nasty disease. ;-)

me too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951038)

Actually, I thought the whole thing was damned funny.

The idea of a macro going off when you open a document to me seems quite stupid and useless. Why on earth would you want an 'OnOpen' sort of even to fire, in a f-ing word processing document!? M$ screwed up by putting that bug in there.

AlGore-yhtms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951040)

A coincidental connection to the self proclaimed creator of the internet? I think not.

Robert Morris' punishment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951041)

and now, RM is a CS grad student at Harvard. or so i've heard.

what was it that was illegal about mellissa?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951042)

The US changes. When I was in high school, not long ago at all, I created a small bit of fuss by giving out disks full of explosives information. The fuss quickly ended when school and law enforcement officials realized that I was doing nothing illegal. I've read several stories in the past couple years of people in the same position I was in being arrested for the same thing, and in fact it being treated as a very serious crime.

They will search to find a law fitting for the Melissa author. And they will succeed, because society (including the police, prosecutor, judge, and jury) are afraid of him, and want to destroy him.

This is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951046)

It's unfortunate that UIDs have been used to
catch this guy. Now the snoopers have some
new evangelism to use in furthering their
agenda to cram surveilance down our throats.
I think it would be better if system security
made virus writing less rewarding, less feasable.
We don't need any new "Cracker Laws" or "Jack
Boot Technology Thugs" to protect information systems and thir property. I suppose a big
enough "Computer Crime Army" could make even
MicroShaft platforms secure, although most of
the Hacker/Craker community would be behind bars!

oh please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951052)

Getting a virus through email in most cases is natural selection. If you get an attachment from someone you don't know or weren't expecting something from, don't open it. Common sense.

Conspiracy? Maybe MS wrote virus to force GUID? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951060)

Could MS have authored the Melissa virus to gain support for GUIDs? I love a good conspiracy theory - imagine this: A few days prior to the virus everyone was complaining about GUIDs. So MS decides they need something to show how good they are. They write a virus that damages MS products. Then they report on MSNBC that the culprit was caught using GUID. Now they are justified in including GUID in software.

GUID or bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951061)

In this case, not if he's smart. Considering all the fuss in the news, he has probably destroyed the NIC he was using and replaced it with a new one, and deleted or converted to a new format (or the new GUID) all of his word documents.

This is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951062)

Are you a moron?

If it wasn't for the Hacker community you wouldn't be posting to Slashdot ya freak. But if my Hacker/Craker ( spelled wrong I might add ) you meant just Crackers well then pardon my misinterpretation

Too bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951081)

I'm probably the only one that feels this way, but I was rooting for our virus author. The real fault is in the gross insecurity of the Microsoft software, or perhaps in the over-reliance on Microsoft software. Discussion on zdnet was vastly in favor of torturing this guy to death (I'm quite serious. With punishments like feeding him into a meat grinder.) This arrest will only bring support for the GUID (and general consensus that privacy is a bad thing), and our virus author, who really did nothing new, will probably receive a punishment vastly in excess of the amount of maliciousness that went into his "crime".

Evidence is completely circumstantial (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951088)

They have no proof that he wrote the virus. It would be trivial to frame him. All you need to do is change the address of your ethernet card. If somebody received a Word document from this guy, it would be easy to get the MAC address of the card along with it.

Here's another news story with more details... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951089),4,34577,00.html?st

Piss off (1)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951099)

Your mistake is in thinking that I get to make software decisions.

I don't decide what the users at my company get. I just get stuck supporting it. Gotta pay for school somehow, you know.

Next time, maybe you ought to get your facts straight before you open your cakehole.


Too friggin bad (1)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951100)

So they caught the asshole. Virus writers get no sympathy from me -- I've had to spend too many extra hours at work over the years because of dickheads like this, rebooting the system of some moron who ignored our policy about opening email attachments or who disabled our virus checkers.

If I ever see another person with a copy of stoned, I swear I'm gonna have to go on a shooting spree.


What I get (1)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951101)

What I get is paid fairly well for a job that's usually pretty easy and which fits in to my college schedule well.


the charges (1)

opus (543) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951102)

According to a much better CNN article [] , the charges are

second-degree charges of interruption of public communication, conspiracy to commit interruption of public communication and attempts to commit those offenses, as well as the third-degree offense of theft of computer services.

Also of note is that the CNN article makes no mention of the MS GUID being part of the evidence that led to his arrest. Apparently he was tracked through an AOL account.

Robert Morris' punishment (1)

opus (543) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951104)

According to edu/6805/articles/morris-worm.html [] ,

Robert T. Morris was convicted of violating the computer Fraud and Abuse Act (Title 18), and sentenced to three years of probation, 400 hours of community service, a fine of $10,050, and the costs of his supervision. His appeal, filed in December, 1990, was rejected the following March.

what was it that was illegal about mellissa?? (1)

Riktov (632) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951107)

But what constitutes consent? When I received the Melissa e-mail last Friday, and MS-Word asked me if I wanted to run the macro, I said NO. Everyone who was hit by Melissa had a chance to allow or disallow the macro to run, whether by disabling the auto-macro feature at some previous time, or when opening the document. And everyone who was hit by it essentially said YES.

I'm not trying to blame the whole thing on the victims, but especially in this case, with Microsoft Word explicitly warning the user beforehand, it's hard to determine where the line should be drawn.

This frightens me (1)

Geek of the Week (845) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951111)

Because it can be used as justification for allowing "Big Brother" type schemes to prosper. Don't forget that the US government has at times requested that wiretapping be legal without a warrant, not to mention key escrow and such. Despite the protestations to the contrary, the US government doesn't want you to have privacy, and this kind of thing may be used as good PR for those efforts. "See how good this is, whe caught a criminal because of it!" The next thing you know, the gov will be REQUIRING this. For the sceptics, remember the Clipper chip?

What can be learned from this (1)

_damnit_ (1143) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951120)

Besides adding another line in the "common sense guide to writing virii", can we learn anything from this? Are macros necessary? If so, should we use javascript, java, VB (this is possible with Star Office, is it not?) I am personally tired of having to disable "features" on MS products. My fiancee says she needs Word for writing her papers. I wouldn't allow it on any of my machines. Now she uses StarOffice. I am glad I made that decision. It pays to be different.

natural consequences of release were crimes. (1)

hawk (1151) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951121)

I went into it more fully href= /30/1344200&cid=915> here, but in addition to the federal law regarding release of virii, the law attributes the same intent to the natural consequences of your actions as the acts themselves. The use of the computers was a criminal trespass, vandalism, and a common law misdemeanor.

Nothing to do with Big Brother. (1)

root (1428) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951131)

From the sketchy article it would appear that he was turned in by someone where he works. All this hype about MS embedding tracking features into Office is just bunk.

Too bad. (1)

Frater 219 (1455) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951136)

To a certain extent, I agree. Not that it's good to break into systems to prove that they're broken ... but rather that when a vulnerability is well-documented, well-known, and the manufacturer continues to do nothing about it, sometimes nothing will bring it to the public attention but a massive exploit.

Compare this to the Netscan site [] , which lists networks which can be used to execute a smurf attack, because they haven't been secured against directed broadcast pings. On the face of it, Netscan is a huge resource for idiots who want to smurf people --- but far more importantly, it brings the brokenness of the networks to the attention of the sysadmins who run them, when they wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

Melissa is hardly a particularly damaging virus; it doesn't scrag your hard drive or damage your files. It does very little more than prove just how catastrophically broken certain Microsoft applications are --- Outloook and Word for exposing users to email-borne viruses that were once a myth, and MS's mail servers for crashing under load that Sendmail or qmail would laugh at.

By no means does this justify virus-writing. However, it places a good deal of the blame for the damage caused by Melissa at the feet of Microsoft and its unthinking customers. Buy a known-insecure system, get what you deserve.

GUID has liitle or no value (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951145)

The GUID only identifies the original creator of the docment. Theoretically, I could create a e-mail virus by starting with a Word file originally created by someone else. By erasing the document, adding in my own malicious code, and resaving, I can "frame" the creator of the original document file. The GUID is created by the File|New routine.

It's only a matter of time before newer viruses are developed. There are supposed to be a lot of interesting features in Melissa: apparently it resets Word to read macros without prompting the user.

The fact that it advertises pornography sites is peculiar. A much more effective virus would advertise "Make Money Fast." Another good place to insert viruses might be in resumes. Some HR departments require the use of MS Word attachments. Many of them may well have their email servers set up in a vulnerable fashion.

Pentum III / GUID Whats next? (1)

mgrennan (2067) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951146)

So they can track us by our MAC address. Maybe we should all be changing our address. This would at least force them to create a database of the changes.

it's going to be very had to prove the he wrote it (1)

perfecto (2989) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951153)

they still can't certify that he wrote it. the evidence is circumstantial at best. the id remains constant no matter who changes it. it's not a bulletproof id.

"The lie, Mr. Mulder, is most convincingly hidden between two truths."

what was it that was illegal about mellissa?? (1)

undo (3635) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951157)

how is virus defined, is it based on self replication, is it formally defined at all???

Plus i mean is this guy prosacutable in the uk if he released it in the us?? just because it ended up in the uk does that mean he falls under their juristiction??

the charges (1)

undo (3635) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951158)

those are some cracked out bullsh*it charges. First off interruption of public communications, come on, is that like interrupting someone, besides the majority of that actual mail systems effected were private systems, like all communications in a capitalist system. as for theft of computer services this has got to be the most selectivly enforced law ever, i mean is any program that does something without your consent stealing computer services, was microsoft steal computer services from me by embedding my history into my word docs w/ out my knowlege and consent?
I'd love to charge them for that!

federal computer crimes (1)

undo (3635) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951160)

But this is such a broad definition of virii, i mean the only damage it causes is indirect, you might be able to prove that he wanted the mail to spread like wildfire but how do you prove that he both knew and intended for it to crash mail servers???
what is the definition of virus, legally???

what was it that was illegal about mellissa?? (1)

rodbegbie (4449) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951167)

I'm not clear on US law, but certainly in the UK, the Computer Misuse Act makes it illegal to write virii, regardless of the payload.


GUID or bad? (1)

rodbegbie (4449) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951168)

This article is extremely vague. It doesn't specify that the person was caught because of the GUID, which I think is still a red-herring.

It would be easier to trace who first posted the document to than it would be to track someone by GUID. Or someone could just have grassed him up.


Pentum III / GUID Whats next? (1)

Breakdown (5084) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951171)

I believe the MAC address is hardcoded on the NIC. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Is there a way to switch the address? I don't know of any way.

Arrests of Virus Creators (1)

EngrBohn (5364) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951172)

There was the gentleman who wrote the "Internet Worm" of 1988 -- IIRC, he admitted to it (he didn't intend it to reach the scale it did), and he was charged with something or other.
Christopher A. Bohn

GUID or bad? (1)

EngrBohn (5364) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951173)

As I read the article, the suspect was caught with the help of AOL, and the article mentions that the president of another software company linked Melissa's originator with VicodinES, and he claims the AOL account used to distribute Melissa was stolen from AOL 15 months ago ... but the link between the suspect and VicodinES is never explicit.
Christopher A. Bohn

Too friggin bad (1)

bgarrett (6193) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951174)

What a lot of people don't think about is that many of us are stuck in "user support" roles at our jobs -- while I personally would love it if everyone here at my office ran (fill in your favorite alternative OS here), I can't enforce that kind of policy, so I'm stuck helping people who got burned.

Yes, virii like Melissa help to expose the gross negligence of companies who put shipping dates and PR image before security, and I'm glad they exist -- to a point. But I hope people don't use the "down with Microsoft" rallying cry to flood the world with macro virii and screw your fellow hackers out of valuable time while we're stuck debugging office computers :)

GOODBYE MS Office! (1)

Darkstorm (6880) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951175)

Check out star office. Free, (for personal use) and besides being a bit slow, it isn't that bad. I have it for winblows and linux.

What if? (1)

Darkstorm (6880) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951176)

You know, it occured to me that what if M$ put someone up to this? Since the discovery of the id in the word docs and how no one wants it. Lets just say Bill wants to leave it there and have people happy about it being there. A small step towards id'ing everything.

Ok, so he hires someone to take credit and the fall for a virus that does nothing but be anoying. Ok, there are probably a few NT mail servers out their who took it hard, but it had no real dammaging characteristics.

Basicly it upset allot of business people, and gets them upset about viruses and how usefull the id was in finding the guilty person. They think nothing of privacy or how usefull that id could be to Bill. They do know it stopped the person who wrote the virus. Another small victory for Bill.

(This is all pure speculation, I have no proof of any kind to back it up. Just seems a bit coincedental for me)

GUID and previous viruses (1)

craw (6958) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951178)

My understanding of the GUID issue is that the Melissa virus and a couple of previous viruses shared the same GUID. Hence, a first assumption is to assume that they came from the same source. Then the task would be to backtrack the origins of the viruses until one reached a common starting point (like finding the intersection point of two lines). This is where the AOL comes in. I don't know what info AOL archives, but perhaps this may be the key to how they tracked down this guy.

I'm wasting part of today downloading virus updates on ppl's computers so I'm a little peeved by all of this.

This is just the beginning. (1)

GypC (7592) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951183)

Now that the idea is out there (viruses spawning through email), expect to see a lot of this in the future. Already, two Melissa "clones" have started to spread.

The only real solution for now is to stop using the braindead Microsoft products that make this kind of thing possible.

Robert Morris' punishment (1)

gampid (8492) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951189)

Actually Robert Morris graduated from Harvard and was one of the founders of ViaWeb [] an online store company that was snapped up by Yahoo for $50 Million. He went from net hacker to net millionaire. Interestingly enough he was head of Security for ViaWeb so I assume he's now running the security at Yahoo. For his 'crime' of writing and releasing the worm he got 400 hours of community service.

MSFT denial (1)

DeathB (10047) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951195)

Since microsoft has been denying that you can use this feature in word to track users, it will be interesting to see what they have to say now. Yeah, this was a "good" use, but there are also "good" uses for tapping everyone's phone lines. This isn't any better than the PIII problem, it's actually worse.

On another note, I don't remember another virus writer ever being arrested. I'm curious as to what they charge him with... Theft of computing resources?

This while thing is such bulls**t (1)

8Complex (10701) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951196)

Computers were meant to hack and be hacked. Virii were meant to do this also, just for the user. If people are so stupid to GET the virus in the first place, they deserve what they get.

This is just another one of the media's protecting the stupid people act.

Personally, I've been on computers / used computers for about 5-6 years now. How many virii have I had? 1. And know where I got it? It was on my DOS 6.2 disks that came from the small place that built my first machine. Since then, I've downloaded virii, played with creation programs, hell, even sent them to stupid people to infect them - and I'm yet to get one myself.

Welcome, stupid people, to the world of computing. We're not going to make it more safe just for you... you'll have to actually LEARN something in order to protect yourself. And maybe this'll make you STOP SENDING SPAM all over the place.


Evidence is completely circumstantial (1)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951197)

According to an article on ZDnet:

> However, the unique computer ID is stored in a
> Word document only once -- when the document is
> created. Even if a document is copied to a new
> computer, and saved under a new name, the
> original GUID number does not change.,4586,22 34018,00.html

More at Ars Technica: -1.html

MS GUID? (1)

Saint (12232) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951203)

How did you extrapolate that this person was caught due to the MS GUID? Was there another article you have not shared?

Not terrorism -- factualism (1)

purp (12986) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951206)

The full quote goes:
Smith originated the virus, which caused worldwide e-mail disruption earlier this week, from his apartment in Aberdeen, Malley said.
The added emphasis is mine. "Malley" is "Rita Malley, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter Verniero."

Yeah, I had to reread it twice, too. =]

what was it that was illegal about mellissa?? (1)

purp (12986) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951207)

undo [] asks:
Im just curious what laws were broken by this "virus"? I mean at best it is an invasion of privacy insofar as it reads your address books w/ out your permission, but what kind of charge is that.
It doesn't just read your address books, it sends mail as you to other people without your consent. That's easily illegal for performing unauthorized actions on computers not owned nor controlled by you; it's probably also prosecutable as fraud.

Who's at fault? (1)

phakt0rE (13423) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951210)

OK, everybody jump on the bandwagon, this poor bastard sucks. He'll get nailed against a wall for what really amounts to a prank. A prank that cost lots of money, and kept lots os sysadmins up late, but still, a prank.
How long have melissa type macro exploits been known and extant? Nothing substantive been done by MS to curb them. No real seriosu efrforts undertaken by companies to see that their employees are properly trained in the most basic precautions against this sort of thing.
The US Government continues to actively fight the use of strong encryption to secure systems and privacy.
THis entier incident will get blown further and further out of proportion to villify all the bad "hackers" out there, and roust up support ofr tighter gevernmemt controls.
Sad, since Mccain Just came out in support of easing up on encryption controls.

Too friggin bad (1)

Dredd13 (14750) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951222)

Ummmm, hello! You're probably the same kinda guy who would sue a gun manufacturer if someone you knew shot themselves!

The cause of your problem is retarded users, not virus authors. If there were no virii, your idiot users would still cause problems, they just wouldn't be easily found by VirusScan...

CERT!? (1)

Ponty (15710) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951230)

What about the CERT? Didn't they have something to do with it? A task force of state and federal agents probably didn't do it alone. And, the article was by MSNBC, not, IMO, the model of journalistic independence or integrity.

I think MSNBC forgot a crucial adjective (1)

Ponty (15710) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951231)

It was all over state lines.

I think MSNBC forgot a crucial adjective (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951234)

Sure it's federal. If it was written in one state and harmed a computer in another, that's federal.

image is nothing (1)

BogoNick (17940) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951246)

On top of that he's from AOL!

Wondering if he actually spelled Melissa 'MELISSA'.

Why? (1)

rebrane (17961) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951247)

yeah! and furthermore, what's so illegal about shooting someone? it's nothing but making a bullet publically available to them (albiet under their skin)!
think about it.

-- neil

What happens with dual processors? (1)

Shadowlion (18254) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951249)

That reminds me - if you have _two_ P3s, how does the system decide which processor ID is used for what? Does it pick the processor is the first processor slot? Does it do it randomly? Does it combine the IDs somehow?

what was it that was illegal about mellissa?? (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951258)

To what? The make an email that hits every MS OutLook user that does nothing more than send it self to people... I could compair this to people that send those damned ICQ messages about how you have to send this to everone on your list or you will get deleted.. Actually I think that is worse, becuase the average user on ICQ does not what is up and freaks out..

what was it that was illegal about mellissa?? (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951259)

Basically all the definition that I have seen basically states "It's a program"..... That all it boil down do.. But to add on, it can do malicious things as a starter, and the advanced is the self replicating programs.

Doesn't matter.. (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951261)

I doesn't have to be the actual writer of the source. If he intentially placed this on the net, he can still be busted....

federal computer crimes (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951262)

Actually it was the Federal Communications Commition Act of 1996

Think about it ppl..... (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951265)

Think about it... What does it take to write a virus of any kind.. This "virus" had to take some learning on the macro part, I give him some respect on actually doing something and figuring it out.. I have mad respect for the more advanced virus programmers becuase they have to keep up with the changing technology, learn it and figure out new algoryhtms to keep them self stealth. Think about what it takes to do this..

he sucks (1)

hacketti (20675) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951266)

not much to say, he just sucks if they've got the right guy..

seems ms guid has some good sides afterall

Evidence is completely circumstantial (1)

RandomFactor (22447) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951279)

True...but assuming they confiscated his computer (certain) and he's brain dead enough not to have covered his tracks (possible, but I would assume a high paranoia level) and they've got someone able to do descent computer forensics (possible) they may be able to nail him anyway.

image is nothing (1)

RandomFactor (22447) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951280)

A 30 year old writing macro viruses.

So much for the 'adolescents' image of virus writers.

I hope hang this guy out to dry (if he did actually do it of course...)

Well at least the Mitnick whiners... (1)

Rombuu (22914) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951281)

...will have a new name to put on their web pages... Free Smith!!! D00DZ!

the charges (1)

Smallest (26153) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951284)

they don't really need any /charges/. the fact that he was arrested for doing it, regardless of if he serves any time, or pays any fines, pretty much ruined his employment prospects: unless he changes his name...

I think MSNBC forgot a crucial adjective (1)

ciphersnow (27137) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951285)

Smith originated the virus, which caused worldwide e-mail...

I think they meant to say "Smith allegidly originated..." Am I wrong, or when terrorism is concerned is it "guilty until proven innocent."

State and federal authorities took part in the arrest.

Jesus, is there really federal jurisdiction in a case like this? I am afraid.

Allright. Federal jusrisdiction for sure...if.. (1)

ciphersnow (27137) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951286)

Allright. Federal jusrisdiction for sure...if..any laws were broken. I know it affected more than one state, that the FBI were involved from the beginning and some kind of National Infrastructure Protection Center was involved. I was more or less wondering what the federal laws were that were broken.

As for his supposed guilt--- I don't care if he did plead guilty. I still think alleged is correct and we should demand as much from journalists. Don't condone them babytalking us. Why not just say "a suspect has been arrested." That's the way it usually works here in the US-- first a suspect. Then charged. Then tried. Then guilty/not-guilty.

thank you. (1)

ciphersnow (27137) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951287)

thanks. I feel a bit better.

Why is this a crime? (1)

phatkro (28027) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951288)

I don't understand why this macro 'virus' is considered a crime. My major point is that the virus has to be passed on by users, who open the MSWord file WITH MACROS ENABLED. So, the only harm done in running in is showing the stupidity of the person passing it on.

Consider these:

I write an email program. I include docs with it stating that it will import your MS Outlook bookmarks. However, Bob sends the executable only to his friend Sam. Sam runs the executable, seeing a license agreement only, and no statement saying that the program will look into your Outlook address book. His privacy has been invaded!@!#@#

Melissa does not invade privacy unless the user wants it to.

I write a buggy program (maybe I work at Microsoft even)-- Bob again sends Sam my program through email. Sam clicks on it, and because he has a Cyrix processor, his computer crashes. My program was malicious!@!#!@

Melissa does no harm to the computer, but merely sends 20 email forwards. People may say this ties up mail servers, but at work, I write more than 20 emails daily.

I decide to write a good old fashioned BASIC program, so:

20 GOTO 10

I compile it, give it to Bob. Bob thinks it's funny and sends it to Sam. Sam thinks his computer is messed up because he doesn't know to hit ctrl-c. He reboots, losing important data. What a malicious program!@!#@#

Users are stupid.

In all these cases, Sam knew Bob, so it's understandable that he might try the programs. But, who the hell looks at an attachment from a stranger in a program that can execute code? Ohwell, I just don't see how they can put a crime on this guy. It'll be interesting to see the wording used. I mean sure, he's a jackass. But so are most totally drunk people at parties.

GUID has liitle or no value (1)

garyrich (30652) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951298)

so what is he actually charged with? The cnn
blurb I saw said he was charged with "authoring
the melissa virus" - I'm pretty sure there is
no law on the books regarding the melissa virus.
is he charged with writing it? posting it to Tampering with systems (a la the
Randall Schwartz Oregon case)or what exactly?

the charges (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951311)

Heh. Wouldnt those charges hold water against... um... Microsoft?

GUID or bad? (1)

uncarvedblockhead (32775) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951314)

The difference is that the GUID makes it easier to prove that he did it to a jury. It is harder to fake a GUID in a word document than it is to forge a usenet header.

Too friggin bad (1)

cbp (33170) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951316)

you have to remember also that there are benificial virii.. & by not having them, you'd continue to have problems that you would not be capable of fixing yourself.. before you bash virii or their creators, i'd suggest you read up on what the actuall definition of a virus is. there is a great book out there called "the giant black book of computer virus's" which while teaching the nature of virus's also teaches how to create them & the practical applications involved.

Doesn't affect us?? (2)

Pasc (59) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951335)

I think you're a bit mistaken, Rob. I know several Linux advocates who were walloped by the Melissa virus. They may run Linux on their servers and on some desktops, but MS dominates the desktop just about everywhere.

I was just on the phone with a friend who was telling me how the Fourtune 500 company he works for had their entire email system go from fully functional to worthless in fourty five minutes. Wow!


perfecto (2989) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951339)

the fbi has issued a "manhunt" on the writer of the melissa virus. they might as well call it a WITCHHUNT. this is not about viruses. more severe viruses have existed and have done more damage than melissa. what this is is a pathetic attempt to set a precedent to give the fbi broad rights to invade your privacy. they have tried this before using terrorism and pedophilia as "targets". but what they don't tell you is that to equal the number of pedophiliacs and terrorists in the real world, the internet population would have had to have MORE THAN 100% PERCENT pedophiles and terrorists!!! pedophiles know that is easier to go to the mall or park to prey on children than it is to get them on the internet. the fbi is just trying to get their foot in your door. the fbi is like your worst dinner guest. once you let them in the door, THEY DON'T LEAVE!! DO NOT GIVE THE FBI THESE KIND OF RIGHTS!!!

what is really puzzling is that they aren't even attempting to address the real issue. that is, "why does a microsoft word document have enough access to your operating system to be able to inflict such damage?!?" if someone broke into the white house and shot the president, the first question they would ask (after thanking the guy) is "how did he get in and what can be done to prevent this is in the future?". i am shocked and amazed that the fbi has not publicly asked this question of microsoft first. i'm sure there are copies of word in the fbi office, aren't they concerned?!?! of course they know what the real issue is. but as they say, the easiest way to cover something up is to ask the wrong question. the fbi is asking the wrong question to deceive you. DON'T FALL FOR THIS TRICK!!!

you think i'm paranoid?? please remember just a few weeks ago the fbi has proposed an initiative to monitor citizen's bank accounts and would have been given them the right to investigate anyone with "questionable transactions". the fbi has also been trying for years to get broader wiretapping rights to counter "terrorists". to the fbi, every citizen is a terrorist. i might even be dead tomorrow for writing this. DON'T FALL FOR THIS TRICK!!!

"The lie, Mr. Mulder, is most convincingly hidden between two truths."

what was it that was illegal about mellissa?? (2)

undo (3635) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951340)

Im just curious what laws were broken by this "virus"? I mean at best it is an invasion of privacy insofar as it reads your address books w/ out your permission, but what kind of charge is that. It's not an invasion of a system, it's an unsolicitied email, which isn't illegal. Does self replication somehow make against the law?

Microsoft should share some of the blame as well. (2)

cholko (10212) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951342)

Sorry, but they have been able to hide behind a wall of ignorance for too long.

They knew when adding the code to their office suite that people could use it to do just what the Melissa author did.

Since its a feature they obviously feel no blame in any of the problems features of their products cause.

Granted it too some loon to write it, but he had the in-direct support of an bunch of people at MS. They are only concerned about their money, which means if a feature that can be abused will make money then so be it, its added anyway.

(I hate working on Good Friday)

Why? (2)

Mr T (21709) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951344)

Writing viruses isn't illegal in the US, distributing them isn't illegal either. Activating them and infecting other users, with out them knowing is.

It's a tricky thing, if you out law distribution, then you have to arrest the guys at NA and Symantec because that's how they write the code. Further, many of the most sophisticated vira out there have been written by virus researchers (v2p6) trying to prove concepts, test their code, etc.. (probably a few did it trying to make a buck or two) Then there is that whole freedom of speech issue.

What this guy did was write a virus, and transmit it to a victim who unknowingly activated it. That is against the law.

What happened to expectation of privacy? (3)

Helmholtz (2715) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951348)

Granted, I'm not a lawyer, in fact I really know next to nothing about law of any kind. But I do seem to remember something about 'expectation of pricacy.' It would seem to me that anybody who is tracked because they used Microsoft products did not realize that by using MS products they were having an electronic tattoo placed on their forearm, and thusly any information that was gathered by using the MS-forearm-tattoo would be inadmissable in a court of law. I could be completely off-base, but I sure hope not.

Another reason this really scares me is suddenly the whole idea of this MS-forearm-tattoo will all of a sudden become more palatable to the general public. When you tell them that they are being tracked by a for-profit corporation the first thing they'll think is "Yeah, but it's only used to catch bad guys."

Computers have already infiltrated our lives to an intimate level, and I find it disheartening that there seems to be both a general disregard and sullen apathy when it comes to dealing with the ramifications of this infiltration. This is doubly disturbing when you realize that everyone also agrees that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I guess it's time to run off to a deserted island with the Professor, Skipper, and Mary Ann. Who knows, maybe I could get Linux running on one of the Professor's coconut-computers . . .


Go Melissa! (3)

Skinka (15767) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951351)

Call me pervert, but I actually enjoyed reading all those reports about Melissa spreading and knoking out mail systems ;)

Seriously, I think this is kinda Microsofts fault. It is a fact of life, that if something can be missused, it will. And what measures does Microsoft take to prevent the missuse of Word and Excel macros? None. Of course, technically it isn't their fault, but I think it's clear that MS should fix the HUGE security holes in Office and Windows.

Doesn't anyone care WHY this can happen? (4)

dsfox (2694) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951352)

Everyone believes its a law of nature that all software is susceptible to viruses like this. Even word processor documents! Why is it so impossible to explain to people that the outrage is MS-Word, not the Melissa virus!

Security for Dummies (5)

purp (12986) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951354)

It was handy once, and will be handy to catch abject imbeciles, but the MS GUID (and the Pentium III digital serial number) won't be of any help to catching the moderately intelligent criminals. They'll skate around it somehow (I can think of two ways right now) and we'll still pay the viral price.

My mother-in-law, a woman in her 50s who's firmly turned-on to the digital age but remains innocent of all but the most basic knowledge regarding computer security issues, is an easy target for these virii. She's still a digital toddler; she trusts all the digital adults out there and doesn't know that some of the misguided ones are out to hurt her. She's got some top-flight viral protection on her machine, but that only helps for the known virii.

In the end, it comes down to education. As much as I hate it, I get to shatter her innocent enjoyment of computing and show her a bit of the darker side; she'll be wiser for it, I know, but watching her take such joy in the medium that I've grown inured to was quite pleasurable to me -- like hearing a five-year-old laugh at a silly joke you heard ages ago and chuckling to yourself, knowing how much more pleasure is ahead.

Thanks, VicodinES, for dragging her into your world.
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