WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. cyber investigators arrested a Minnesota teenager Friday on charges of unleashing a damaging virus-like infection weeks ago on the Internet, officials said.
A court official in Minnesota identified the teenager as Jeffrey Lee Parson, 18, known online as "teekid." A U.S. official in Washington also confirmed an arrest was made early Friday.
Parson was to make his initial court appearance later Friday in St. Paul, Minn. Further details were expected to be disclosed later by the FBI and U.S. attorney's office in Seattle, which has been leading the investigation.
Collectively, different versions of the virus-like worm, alternately called "LovSan" or "Blaster," snarled corporate networks worldwide, forcing Maryland's motor vehicle agency to close for one day. The infection inundated networks and frustrated home users.
Symantec Corp., a leading antivirus vendor, said the worm and its variants infected more than 500,000 computers worldwide. Experts consider it one of the worst outbreaks this year.
The "Blaster.B" version of the infection, which began spreading Aug. 13, was remarkably similar to the original Blaster worm that first struck two days earlier; experts said the author made few changes, renaming the infecting-file from "msblast" to an anatomical reference.
All the Blaster virus variants took advantage of a flaw in Microsoft Corp.'s flagship Windows software. Government and industry experts had anticipated such an outbreak since July 16, when Microsoft acknowledged the software problem, which affects Windows technology used to share data files across computer networks.
The infection was quickly dubbed "LovSan" because of a love note left behind on vulnerable computers: "I just want to say LOVE YOU SAN!" Researchers also discovered another message hidden inside the infection that appeared to taunt Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates: "billy gates why do you make this possible? Stop making money and fix your software!"
Infected computers were programmed to automatically launch an attack on a Web site operated by Microsoft, which the software maker easily blunted. The site, windowsupdate.com, is used to deliver repairing software patches to Microsoft customers to protect against these types of infections.