|Robert Tappan Morris|
|Born||November 8, 1965|
|Conviction(s)||Intentional access of Federal interest computers without authorization thereby preventing authorized access and causing a loss in excess of $1,000.00  Jury returned a verdict of "guilty" on 22 Jan 1990, after 5½ hours of deliberations|
|Penalty||Probation for a term of three years and 400 hours of community service in a manner determined by the Probation Office and approved by the Court. Fines in the amount of $50 (payable immediately); $10,000 (payable in the first year); and $91/month for the three-year probation (payable monthly)|
|Occupation||associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
Robert Tappan Morris, (born November 8, 1965), is an American associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the Institute's department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He is best known for creating the Morris Worm in 1988, considered the first computer worm on the Internet. He is the son of Robert Morris, the former chief scientist at the National Computer Security Center, a division of the National Security Agency (NSA).
Morris created the worm while he was a graduate student at Cornell University. The original intent, according to him, was to gauge the size of the Internet. He released the worm from MIT to conceal the fact that it actually originated from Cornell. The worm was designed to count how many machines were connected to the internet. Unknown to Morris, the worm had a design flaw. The worm was programmed to check each computer it found to determine if the infection was already present. However, Morris believed that some administrators might try to defeat his worm by instructing the computer to report a false positive. To compensate for this possibility, Morris directed the worm to copy itself anyway, 14% of the time, no matter the response to the infection-status interrogation. This level of replication proved excessive and the worm spread rapidly, infecting several thousand computers. It was estimated that the cost of "potential loss in productivity" caused by the worm at each system ranged from $20,000 to more than $530,000. The worm exploited several vulnerabilities to gain entry to targeted systems, including:
Robert Morris served no jail time, but was sentenced to community service and probation, even though federal sentencing guidelines in such cases called for much harsher consequences.
Morris is a longtime friend of Paul Graham. Graham dedicated his book ANSI Common Lisp to him, and named the programming language that generates the online stores' web pages RTML in his honor. Graham also lists Morris as one of his personal heroes saying "he's never wrong."
Hafner, Katie; Markoff, John (1991). Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier. ISBN 0-671-68322-5.