Software developer fears legal tar pit

Friday, 25 April 2003, 12:17 AM EST

In the days following the July 2001 Code Red worm outbreak, which infected 359,000 systems in 14 hours, software developer Tom Liston started work on an application that would turn the tables on worms. He created LaBrea, which essentially acts like a digital tar pit, trapping hackers and worms, forcing hackers to break off attacks, and preventing worms from moving on to other computers.

The free, open-source application has been heralded in security circles and nominated for awards as a unique weapon. It's also been pulled from Lipton's Hackbusters.net site by its author. He yanked it April 15 when the Illinois resident learned that a 4-month-old state law (Compiled Statutes 720 ILCS 5) makes it illegal to create a device capable of disrupting a communication service without the express authorization of the communication service provider.

The law also makes it a crime to conceal the existence, origin, or destination of any communication from a service provider or any lawful party.

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