WebTVs Hacked To Dial 911 Called Cyberterrorism

from the stupid?--yes.--terrorist?--no dept

A guy who was pissed off at some WebTV owners sent them all a virus he created which caused their WebTVs to dial 911 instead of phoning home to Microsoft. He was tracked down by following the trail of the program. Besides calling 911 (and causing the police to respond to a number of homes), he had it mail off information to a certain address. The folks at Microsoft worked out that that same address had emailed a version of the virus earlier to another WebTV customer, and figured that he was probably the culprit. The guy has been charged with cyberterrorism. This seems a bit extreme to me. Clearly, he deserves to be charged with something – but cyberterrorism seems to go a bit far. Also, I wonder why no one thought to set up WebTVs so that they couldn’t call 911. In fact, why would any modem be allowed to directly call 911?

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Comments on “WebTVs Hacked To Dial 911 Called Cyberterrorism”

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Raymond Chen (user link) says:

Locale-sensitive modems?

911 is the emergency number in the US, but in Sweden it is 112, in Germany it is 110, in France there are several (15, 17, 18, depending on what type of emergency you have) and in Britain it is 999. Should modems block all these numbers?
What if you are behind a PBX that requires 9 to get an outside line? Blocking 911 would mean that you couldn’t call anything that began with 11.

Nate says:

No Subject Given

Typing as someone who did a stint as a dispatcher for a pretty busy volunteer ambulance company for a little over a year, I think he was charged correctly.
We have prisoners being held in outdoor jail cells in Guantanamo Bay (hope I spelled that right) that are there for merely thinking about committing the act (conspiring)…this guy actually did an act that could have had dire consequences if those emergency resources were required elsewhere at that time.

The Guantanamo Bay reference was not meant as a political one…just an analogy.

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