WebTV hacker jailed

An Louisianan man has been sentenced to six months in prison for sending an email virus to WebTV users which caused their devices to dial 911.

David Jeansonne, 41, of Metairie, Louisiana, pleaded guilty last month to causing a threat to public safety and causing damage to computers as reported here. US District Judge Ronald M Whyte sentenced the defendant on Monday and ordered Jeansonne to be detained at home for a further six months and pay Microsoft $27,100.

The WebTV service, now known as MSN TV, allows subscribers to connect to the internet using their television. The virus sent by Jeansonne changed the user's setting so the next time they tried to connect, instead of dialling up their ISP, they called the emergency services. Around 20 users were thought to be affected and ten users reported that their local police force had telephoned or visited home in response to the emergency phone call.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos said it was good to see action being taken against malicious code authors.

"Making prank phone calls to the police is a dangerous occupation which could have life threatening repercussions for innocent members of the general public. Writing a program to automatically cause this kind of nuisance demonstrates a whole new level of moronic behaviour," said Cluley.

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