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The First Botnet, 25 Years Ago Today
November 3, 2013 4:41 PM   Subscribe

How a grad student trying to build the first botnet brought the Internet to its knees. via
posted by nevercalm (7 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not to mention where his dad worked.
posted by gwint at 5:09 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was really interesting---definitely the most thorough piece about the Morris worm I've read. I didn't know that it was intended to be a botnet. I'd only heard that it was intended to estimate the size of the internet by sending messages back to RTM.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 5:11 PM on November 3, 2013


i think i should mention that under the name of "dr dynasaur", he became one of usenet's important anti-spam activists

yes, he did something stupid and criminal in his youth - but he made a real and lasting contribution to the net in order to make up for it
posted by pyramid termite at 5:16 PM on November 3, 2013


How to get the story wrong in the very first sentence...

A "botnet" is a set of computers that have been taken over for arbitrary uses by the intruder.

Morris did no such thing.
posted by ocschwar at 5:20 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


How to get the story wrong in the very first sentence...

A "botnet" is a set of computers that have been taken over for arbitrary uses by the intruder.

Morris did no such thing.


Did you read the whole article? If the details given in this story are true, Morris tried (kinda) and failed to build a command and control network to get infected computers to do undetermined things based on messages he was going to send.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 5:33 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I got one call from a newspaper in Southern Indiana," Spafford says. "The reporter asked me, in all earnestness, 'Do our readers need to worry about catching this virus?'"

"Gosh, I don't know," Spafford deadpanned in response. "We don't have a medical school. You ought to call the folks at Indiana University."
Heh.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:23 AM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


That didn't save him from becoming one of the first people prosecuted and convicted under an anti-hacking statute that Congress had passed a few years earlier.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 was a nice piece of today's future. The law made it criminal to (pdf):

"• knowingly accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorization to obtain classified information with intent or belief that such information would be used to harm the United States;

• knowingly accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorization to obtain financial or credit records from a financial institution; and

• knowingly accessing a computer used by or on behalf of the United States if such access interferes with the government's use of the computer.

Penalties included fines and imprisonment for up to ten years for first offenses, twenty years for repeat offenses. Operating with little data illuminating the nature and extent of the problem posed by computer crime at the time, “the 1984 Act essentially was a shot in the dark.”"

A shot in the dark in a room full of people. That's the U.S. Congress for you.
posted by three blind mice at 6:59 AM on November 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


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