Hackware author arrested - maybe

Monday, 7 October 2002, 12:23 AM EST

When Scotland Yard jubilantly announced the arrest of a London-based malware author nicknamed Torner last month, most Internet users probably drew a blank.

After all, Torner's Linux-based Tornkit hacking program was hardly in the same league as Melissa or Love Bug, the mainstream Windows worms created by David Smith and Onel de Guzman, respectively.

But to Teresa Hall and a group of other system administrators and Internet users, Torner was public enemy No. 1.

"He was a cyberterrorist ... an abuser and a low human," said Hall, a Tennessee grandmother of three who volunteers as an operator for IRCnet, an Internet relay chat network where Torner and his crew ran wild for much of 2000 and 2001, according to Hall.

Hall and her fellow "IRCops" contend that Torner not only wrote Tornkit - a "rootkit" program that lets a computer cracker take control of a compromised Linux computer without being detected - but also that Torner and his cohorts were the program's most active users.

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