[TUHS] Happy birthday Morris worm

Doug McIlroy doug at cs.dartmouth.edu
Sun Nov 3 00:12:14 AEST 2019

Full disclosure: I served as a character witness at Robert Morris's trial.
Before the trial, the judge was quite incredulous that the prosecutor
was pursuing a felony charge and refused to let the trial go forward
without confirmation from the prosecutor's superiors in Washington.

> I'm sure that Bob was proud of his son's accomplishments -- but not
that one.

As Bob ut it, "It {being the father] is not a great career move."
Robert confessed to Bob as soon as he realized the folly of loosing
an exponential, even with a tiny growth rate per generation. I 
believe that what brought computers to their knees was the
overwhelming number of attacks, not the cost of cecryption. The
worm did assure that only one copy would be allowed to proceed
at a time.

During high school, Robert worked as a summer employee for Fred
Grampp. He got high marks for finding and correcting an exploit.

> making use of known vulnerabilities

Buffer overflows were known to cause misbehavior, but few people
at the time were conscious that the misbehavior could be controlled.
I do not know whether Berkeley agonized before distributing the
"debug" feature that allowed remote super-user access via sendmail.
But they certainly messed up by not documenting it.


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