How They Caught Him

Tracking the hacker who hatched the Melissa virus

Like so much in life, it began with sex. Alt.sex, to be precise, a Usenet newsgroup devoted to erotica. This is where the computer virus called Melissa was, in geek terminology, released "in the wild." Named after a topless dancer in Florida, where "her" alleged author once lived, the virus was unremarkable except for her speed. Experts had never seen anything spread so fast. People trusted Melissa; she arrived disguised as an e-mail from a friend or colleague. In a matter of days, she was replicating herself all over cyberspace--from Berlin to Beijing, from the U.S. Marine Corps to the office...

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