RealTime IT News

Authorities Nab Zotob Writers

The FBI arrested two men in connection with this month's computer virus that wreaked havoc on computer networks at companies and government agencies throughout North America.

During a press conference today, federal officials said Farid Essebar, 18, of Morocco, and Atilla Ekici, 21, of Turkey, were arrested Thursday in their respective countries. They are charged in connection with writing and releasing the Zotob and Mytob worms, according to the FBI.

Essebar, who used the moniker "Diabl0," and Ekici, known as "Coder," are believed to have worked together on the viruses, although the FBI could not say if they had ever met in person.

Zotob, a fast moving virus, surfaced earlier this month after Microsoft warned of the security flaw. It hit several media outlets hard, including ABC, CNN, The Associated Press and The New York Times, among others.

The worm took advantage of the Windows Plug-and-Play vulnerability.

"This arrest demonstrates the value of public-private collaboration, the first-class investigative work by the authorities and round-the-clock technical and investigative support provided by our Internet Crime Investigations Team here at Microsoft," said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft .

During a joint conference call with FBI officials, Smith said Microsoft's Internet Crime Investigations Team supported the investigation with international law enforcement immediately following the release of the two worms. The company provided technical information and analytical support to the FBI on this case, which was then shared with Moroccan and Turkish authorities.

Louis M. Reigel III, FBI Cyber Division assistant director, said the worm was in part written by both men.

Both countries are going to charge the men with crimes, although Reigel could not say which, because of varying laws regulating computer behavior.