The man convicted of authoring the Blaster worm has been sentenced to 18 months in jail and 10 months of community service.

Jeffrey Lee Parson admitted to writing the Blaster-B worm, which the prosecution claimed infected 48,000 computers and caused $1.2 million in damage back in the late summer of 2003. Before reaching a plea bargain, Parson had faced a possible maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He was 18 at the time of his arrest.

''An 18-month prison sentence is probably the best that Jeffrey Parson could have realistically hoped for,'' says Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Inc., an anti-virus and anti-spam company based in Lynnfield, Mass. ''The U.S. authorities have demonstrated their determination to deal with virus writers and other cybercriminals. Parson's sentence sends out a strong message to other young people that writing viruses is a fool's game. Parson and his parents will be regretting the day he decided to get involved in virus-writing.''

Parson, according to Sophos, went by the online handle of 'Teekid'. He wrote the Blaster-B worm which was functionally equivalent to the much more widespread Blaster-A worm, exploiting a Microsoft security vulnerability in order to spread across the net. According to sources at Sophos, the worm also included some offensive text directed towards Microsoft, Bill Gates, and the anti-virus industry.

As part of the plea bargain agreed upon last year, Parson admitted he created the Blaster-B worm on his home computer in Hopkins, Minn. Based on the plea deal, the virus writer could have expected to receive between 18 months and 3 years in prison.

Despite the damage that Blaster-B inflicted, Parson was not the original Blaster author. Someone else was responsible for creating Blaster-A.

''It must not be forgotten that the identity of the author of the original Blaster worm, who infected many many more computers than Parson, is still a mystery,'' says Cluley. ''Despite a $250,000 bounty on their head, we are still no closer to unmasking the culprit. Jeffrey Parson is small fry when compared to the major virus-writing criminals who are still at large.''