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Reading skills - THE COMPUTER HACKER GOES ON TRIAL


Klausimas #1


 THE COMPUTER HACKER GOES ON TRIAL
 
     On November 2, 1988 Cornell University graduate student Robert Morris went on trial. He was accused of having caused thousands of computers across the country to stop. They had stopped because he had unleashed a "worm", a tiny program that copies itself into other programs and diskettes and spreads through computer networks. Otherwise a worm is called a "virus". While some viruses are mere pranks, others may contain destructive "time bombs". A time bomb means here a computer program that , on a certain date performs a task such as printing a message or more harmfully, destroying data.
     Morris's trial under a 1988 federal computer-crime law began last week in Syracuse, N.Y. It appears that Morriss act has brought out a clash between two very different cultures in a computer science. On the other hand, the computing world is dominated by those in business science and national security who find themselves deeply dependent on computers in everything they do. The smooth running of their system is important to business. On the other hand, there are hackers, criminal-minded computer programmers. They hold that the best way to improve a computer system is to toy with it and expose its weak points.
     The public are sharply divided over whether Morris is a hero or criminal. Morris's lawyer argued that no great harm was done to the computer. He explains that the young student in computer science was merely running an experiment that spun out of control because of a programming mistake. But the prosecution is portraying Morris as an irresponsible person who has deliberately attacked computers and caused them to shut down. If Morris is found guilty, he faces a 250,000 dollar fine and up to five years in prison.
     Morris is not the first to suffer from the computer-crime laws. More than 100 people have been convicted since 1987. Most of them have been accused of sabotaging or destroying data. All states but one have the same kind of laws. At least three new bills are being considered at Congress.

(Adapted from 'Time')

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