Two arrested overseas for crafting malware

Law enforcement officials in Morocco and Turkey have arrested two men believed to be responsible for creating and distributing the Mytob and Zotob computer worms that disrupted government and private-sector systems within the last two weeks, the FBI announced this morning.

The FBI worked on the investigation together with Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Crime Investigations Team and officials in the two countries.

Moroccan authorities arrested Farid Essebar, 18, a Moroccan subject born in Russia who went by the screen name Diabl10, the FBI said in a press statement. The Turkish Interior Ministry's National Police arrested Attila Ekici, 21, known online as 'coder.'

It was not immediately clear what charges the two men faced or whether they are being held in jail. FBI officials referred those questions to the governments of the two countries.

FBI Cyber Division assistant director Louis M. Reig said the bureau had combined the efforts of its 'highly skilled cyberinvestigators with other domestic and international law enforcement agencies, as well as private-sector companies including Microsoft and various members of the antivirus community' to bring about the arrests.

Tim Cranton, senior attorney for Microsoft, said in a telephone interview that Morrocan and Turkish officials were evaluating the information obtained as a result of the arrests and that 'there are various laws that would apply in these circumstances. It really depends on the evidence the law enforcement authorities gather.'

Cranton said he had worked with Microsoft's Internet crime team, a group of about a dozen attorneys and systems experts who provide 24-hour support to law enforcement agencies. The Microsoft team worked through the FBI to help Moroccan and Turkish officials investigate the matter, he said.

'My understanding is that Turkish and Moroccan law enforcement officials were enthusiastic about pursuing and investigating the case,' said Cranton, formerly a prosecutor for King County, Wash., which includes Seattle.

Cranton said Microsoft would continue to provide technical support during the investigation and prosecution of the cases.

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