Security Bytes: Blaster writer gets 18 months in prison

Also in the news, a Russian firm warns of SP2 holes in data protection feature and Gartner questions Microsoft's latest antipiracy move.

Teen gets 18 months for launching Blaster variant
A Minnesota teenager has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and 10 months of community service, after he pleaded guilty to launching a variant of the Blaster worm in 2003. Jeffrey Lee Parson, 19, of Hopkins, Minn., was a high school senior when he downloaded and modified the worm, the Associated Press reported. His variant launched a distributed denial-of-service attack against a Microsoft Corp. Web site and personal computers. The government estimated the variant infected more than 48,000 computers. Parson initially pleaded innocent, but changed his plea last summer to one count of intentionally causing or attempting to cause damage to a protected computer, the Associated Press said. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said she was sentencing him at the low end of the agreed-upon range because although he was 18 at the time of the attack, his maturity level was much younger than that. He'll serve his time at a low-security prison. He had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine. "I know I've made a huge mistake and I hurt a lot of people and I feel terrible," Parson told the judge.

A new security hole in SP2?
The Data Execution Protection feature in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) is far from ironclad, according to a Russian security firm. In a paper published Friday, Moscow-based Positive Technologies said two minor mistakes in the implementation of Data Execution Protection allow a knowledgeable programmer to sidestep the protection, CNET News.com reported. The feature is meant to keep potential attackers from inserting rogue code into a PC's memory and tricking Windows into running the program. Positive Technologies claims it notified Microsoft of the problem Dec. 22, but apparently decided not to wait for the software giant to issue a patch.

Gartner: Antipiracy plan will weaken Windows
Microsoft's plan to fight software piracy by requiring Windows users to prove they have a legitimate copy may help the developer, but it'll make Windows an easier target for attackers in the long run, Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc. said. Gartner analysts Neil MacDonald, Michael Silver, and Dion Wiggins posted a message on the firm's Web site urging enterprises to verify that Microsoft's Genuine Windows Advantage program is both safe and consistent with existing security practices, especially those that rely on Windows Update to install security patches. Microsoft has said Windows Update will be closed off to those who can't validate that their copy of Windows is legitimate by mid-2005. The analysts also recommend businesses continue beefing up their patching processes as WGA is implemented, because, they wrote, "[it] will inevitably result in more unpatched Windows systems available on the Internet" because it "will limit the availability of critical security patches."

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