Who writes viruses?

Friday, 26 September 2003, 8:32 AM EST

Who takes the time and effort to pull off malicious stunts, like viruses, malware, worms, Trojans, or any other deliberately damaging actions? And why? After all, there are risks involved. Who are these people and what do they gain?

The common stereotype is a bored but brilliant teenager from a dysfunctional family. The very name "script kiddies" implies that. And the latest (as of this writing) virus writer caught seems to reflect that stereotype. Go to any news search engine and enter "Jeffrey Lee Parson" and there he is, the alleged author of a variant of the LovSan/Blaster worm. Yes, he's 18, probably smart, possibly maladjusted, and instead of writing an original chunk of code, he (allegedly) chose to modify an existing worm. Part of his (alleged) modification was to insert a backdoor Trojan to enable (in theory) the remote control of any infected box. His motive is at this time unclear -- the best current guess is that he merely wanted to prove that he could do it and gain some status or notoriety. He also left a clear trail back to himself as the author, which strikes the investigators who caught him as being careless.

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