Jeffrey Lee Parson, the Minnesota teenager accused of unleashing a variant of the Blaster worm, has accused the authorities of exaggerating the case against him.
His parents yesterday went on NBC's "Today" show to defend their son. Meanwhile in an off-camera interview with one of the show's producers, Parson, 18, took exception to his portrayal in the media. He claims to have been made a scapegoat for the damage caused by all variants of the Blaster worm and the recent unprecedented upsurge in viral activity on the Net in general.
"I am extremely concerned that the government is trying to make an example of me," Parson told Today producer Eric Ortner. "I understand that the government needs to catch someone for these crimes. I'm not the one they need to get!"
Parson is not accused of writing the original Blaster worm. Instead he has been charged with releasing a variant of the worm, called Blaster-B. According to court papers, this variant infected approximately 7,000 computers. By comparison the original Blaster worm is estimated to have infected hundreds of thousands of computers.
US Attorney John McKay has described Parson as a "key figure" in the computer worm incident.
Parson faces one count of "intentionally causing damage to a protected computer" an offence punishable by a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Parson declined to discuss the specifics of the charges against him for legal reasons. He did however say he was "concerned about going to jail for the crimes the public believes I've committed, and did not."
He takes exception to his portrayal in the media as a reckless loner who unleashed devastation of Net users.
Parson told Today: "I'm not a loner. I have a very supportive close group of friends. I'm not reckless, I don't do drugs, smoke or drink. This is the first time I have ever had a run in with the law."
"It's hurtful to see the accounts of me. I'm not depressed, embarrassed about my weight [an estimated 320 pounds], or a misfit," he added.
Parson says all he wants to do is return to school and continue with his studies, something he concedes may be difficult given the notorious status his arrest has week has conferred upon him.
His parents, Bob and Rita Parson, describe their son as a "good kid" who's never been in trouble with the police before. They are shocked at the charges against him. His mother describes him as an ordinary teenager.
"My son is not brilliant; he's not a genius," Rita Parson said. "Anyone that has any computer knowledge could have done what Jeff did. It doesn't take a level of genius to do this."
Parson is next scheduled to appear in court, in Seattle, on September 17. ®
Blaster worm spreading rapidly
Blaster worm variants make mischief
Blaster rewrites Windows worm rules
Windows Update still standing despite Blaster
Blaster variant offers 'fix' for pox-ridden PCs
FBI arrests Blaster suspect
Parson not dumbest virus writer ever, shock!