August 26, 2005

Suspected computer worm authors arrested

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Authorities in Morocco and Turkey have arrested two men for writing computer worms that disrupted networks across the United States last week, the FBI said on Friday.

Farid Essebar, 18, of Morocco, and Atilla Ekici, 21, of Turkey, are believed to have written and unleashed the Zotob and Rbot worms that hit the Internet less than two weeks ago, the FBI said.

The worms caused computer outages at more than 100 U.S. companies, including major media outlets like CNN, The New York Times and ABC News.

The worms did not cause widespread havoc along the lines of previous malicious software programs like SQL Slammer and MyDoom.

Zotob and Rbot targeted a recently discovered flaw in the Plug and Play feature of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 operating system.

Users who heeded a prior warning from Microsoft and updated their systems were not victimized by the worms.

Those who didn't keep their systems up to date could have their computers taken over by remote servers.

Microsoft and the FBI helped overseas authorities track down those responsible, the FBI said.

"The swift resolution of this matter is the direct result of effective coordination and serves as a good example of what we can achieve when we work together," FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Louis Reigel said in a press release.