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Famous Hackers: Then and Now

By Jordan Robertson - 2012-04-19T17:38:08Z

Courtesy Robert Tappan Morris

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Robert Tappan Morris

Robert Tappan Morris attained notoriety in 1988 when, as a graduate student at Cornell University, he unleashed the first widespread worm attack on the Internet, causing thousands of computers to crash.

The son of a high-ranking National Security Agency scientist, Morris said the program was a research experiment that got out of control. He became the first person charged under an anti-hacking law that made it illegal to penetrate federal computers. He was fined $10,000 and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service, a punishment some security experts say was too steep considering the types of Internet attacks that are now launched daily.

Morris is currently a computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.