Who's Responsible? Virus Authors

The authors of viruses and worms should most certainly be held responsible for their misdeeds. Often, the authors harbor malicious motives, either to hack into individual computers to gather private personal information such as credit card numbers and passwords, or to launch large-scale attacks on large software companies and Internet Service Providers such as Microsoft and Yahoo!

According to a CNN Report, the typical virus writer is male, obsessed with computers, lacking a girlfriend, and aged 14 to 34. In the report, Jan Hruska, the CEO of Sophos PLC, the world's fourth-largest anti-virus solutions provider, remarked that "[virus writers] are usually socially inadequate and are drawn compulsively to write self-replicating codes. It's a form of digital graffiti to them."

The author of the MS Blaster worm that wrecked havoc on Stanford last year fits the above description perfectly. Jeffrey Lee Parson (left), an 18-year-old high school student, is the author of variant 'B' of the Blaster worm and has since been charged with intentionally damaging a proctected computer.

One problem faced by law enforcement agencies is that virus authors are often hard to track, either because they are based overseas, or because they covered their tracks very well. For example, the original writer of the Blaster worm has yet to be tracked down. If the writer is tracked down, however, he/she should definitely be punished to deter others with similar malicious intents.