WebTV Virus Writer Sentenced to Prison

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A Louisiana man was sentenced to six months in prison for sending a malicious program using e-mail that caused Microsoft WebTV customers to call the 911 emergency service without their knowledge, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California.

David Jeansonne, 44, pled guilty in February to charges of intentionally causing damage to computers and causing a threat to public safety.

He was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte and will have to spend an additional six months of home detention and pay $27,100 to Microsoft after he is released, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.

WebTV, which is now known as MSN TV, is a Microsoft service that allows subscribers to browse the Web and connect to the Internet through their television sets.

Malicious E-Mail

In July 2002, Jeansonne sent out e-mail messages to around 20 WebTV subscribers with an attachment that he claimed would change the WebTV display colors when opened. The attachment was actually a computer script that reprogrammed the recipient's WebTV box to dial 911 instead of the local telephone number to access Microsoft's WebTV servers.

Around 10 users fell for the ruse, and local police departments around the country responded, sending officers to the homes of WebTV users in response to the 911 calls.

Jeansonne was caught following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit of the United States Attorney's Office.

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