[TUHS] Happy birthday, Morris Worm!

Don Hopkins don at DonHopkins.com
Fri Nov 3 02:54:53 AEST 2017

Date: Sat, 5 Nov 88 10:57:11 PST
From: kent at na-net.stanford.edu (Mark Kent)
Message-Id: <8811051857.AA02684 at patience.stanford.edu>
To: src
Subject: Isn't this...

Isnt't this the Robert Morris who worked with Mark Manasse and Greg
Nelson in the summer of 1987 (in my cubicle from summer 1986)?
He did a X windows to <dec-src window system> interface amazingly fast,
*without* using the tools in emacs that make
writing M2+ programs easier (because he did it in vi).

He knew a *lot* about sendmail then.


From: Martin Frost <ME at sail.stanford.edu>
Subject: virus programmer

>From the AP news early Saturday morning comes this story.
Note the mention of passwords for some computers at Stanford.

Creator Of Computer 'Virus' Is Cornell Student, Son Of Government Scientist

Eds: News conference scheduled at 10 a.m. EST
Associated Press Writer
    A Cornell University student whose father is a top government
computer security expert created the ''virus'' that slowed 6,000
computers nationwide, said a report today, and the school found that
the young man possessed unauthorized computer codes.
    Two sources with detailed knowledge of the case told The New York
Times that Robert T. Morris Jr., 23, a computer science graduate
student whom friends describe as ''brilliant,'' devised the virus as
an experiment.
    M. Stuart Lynn, Cornell's vice president for information
technologies, said early today that the university had not talked to
Morris but was investigating his computer files. The Ithaca, N.Y.,
school scheduled a news conference for today.
    ''So far we have determined that his account contains files that
appear to hold passwords for some computers at Cornell and Stanford
to which he is not entitled,'' Lynn said in a statement. ''We also
have discovered that Morris' account contains a list of passwords
substantially similar to those found in the virus.''
    Passwords are the codes needed to gain access to computer systems.
    The student's father, Robert Morris Sr., is chief scientist at the
National Computer Security Center in Bethesda, Md., the arm of the
National Security Agency devoted to protecting computers from outside
attack. He has written widely on the security of the Unix operating
system, the computer master program that was the target of the
computer virus.
    Several telephone calls to the family's home in Silver Spring, Md.,
near Washington, went unanswered. Later, an answering machine was
attached and messages left on it were not returned.
    The younger Morris also could not be reached. The university said it
did not have a local address for him, and Lynn said college officials
believed he was on his way to Washington.
    Computer viruses behave like biological viruses in that they
duplicate themselves and spread from computer to computer, through
''electronic mail'' systems or other networks. They consume computer
processing power and storage space, and some - but apparently not
this one - destroy stored information.
    The virus was introduced into Arpanet, a Department of Defense
computer network linking universities, research centers and defense
operations, officials said. It was intended to remain there
undetected, slowly making copies that would move from computer to
computer, the Times said.
    But a design error caused it instead to replicate out of control,
the Times reported Friday, quoting an anonymous caller to the
newspaper who said he was an associate of the program's designer.
    The virus jammed more than 6,000 computers nationwide starting
Wednesday. But it apparently caused no damage other than lost
research time and the thousands of costly hours that computer
scientists and programmers were spending to remove it from their
systems. By Friday, most universities and research centers had turned
their computers back on.
    George Strawn, director of the Computation Center at Iowa State
University in Des Moines, described the impact of the virus at his
school as ''a slight case of the sniffles.''
    Doug Van Houweling, vice provost for information technology at the
University of Michigan, said no files were damaged but many hours of
work were needed to clean out ''duplicate waste files'' the virus
    Hans-Werner Braun, a computer expert at the Ann Arbor, Mich.,
school, said the main effect of the incident was to call attention to
the system's vulnerability.
    The elder Morris told the Times that the virus ''has raised the
public awareness to a considerable degree. It is likely to make
people more careful and more attentive to vulnerabilities in the
    Sources told the Times that his son flew to Washington on Friday and
planned to hire a lawyer and meet with officials in charge of the
Arpanet network to discuss the incident.
    Computer scientists said the younger Morris worked in recent summers
at the American Telephone and Telegraph Co.'s Bell Laboratories. One
of his projects included rewriting the communications security
software for most computers that run the Unix operating system, which
AT&T developed, the Times reported.
    Computer scientists who are disassembling the virus to learn how it
worked said they have been impressed with its power and cleverness.
    The elder Morris, 56, told the Times that it was ''the work of a
bored graduate student.''
    Dexter Kozen, the graduate faculty representative in Cornell's
computer science department, said he chuckled when he heard that
    ''We try to keep them from getting bored,'' he said. ''I guess we
didn't try hard enough.''

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