Computer Crime Research Center


Morocco teen hacker

Date: September 18, 2006

Morocco's most internationally famous criminal of late is not a terrorist or serial killer, but a young man with a knack for computers.

The conviction this week of a Moroccan science student for unleashing the Zotob worm that ravaged U.S. computer networks last year could even be cast as proof that this agriculture-dependent, unemployment-plagued nation is making its mark on the digital world.

In August 2005, Zotob crashed computers across the United States, including those of The Associated Press, The New York Times and other media organizations; companies such as heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar; and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau.

Farid Essebar, then 18, was arrested soon afterward along with accomplices in Morocco and Turkey in a sweep by U.S., Moroccan and Turkish police. On Tuesday a court in Sale, near the capital, Rabat, sentenced him to two years in prison and gave his friend Achraf Bahloul one year.

While few Moroccans are willing to defend Essebar's flagrantly criminal hacking feat, many see it as evidence that their country is making the leap to computer literacy.
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