Jeffrey Lee Parson of Hopkins, Minnesota has been charged with spreading the MSBlast virus that crippled thousands of computers in the past couple of months. The 18 year old is suspected of creating a variant of the virus which caused many computers to crash.

He has been charged under "intentionally causing and attempting to cause damage to a protected computer" and if found guilty could spend up to 10 years in prision and a fine of $250,000. John McKay, the public prosecutor in Seattle, said Mr Parson's arrest was a "significant step forward" in the hunt for the original culprit.

"The Department of Justice takes these crimes very seriously. We will devote all available resources to tracking down those who attack our technological infrastructure," Mr McKay told a press conference. Investigators searched Mr Parson's home on 19 August and removed seven computers for analysis.

If he is found guilty it could defer other people from releasing such virus' on the Internet. The FBI have not yet found the original writer of the virus however they are making progress on this and other similar virus'.

The virus targeted Microsoft Windows computer in a flaw in how files were transferred over the net. Once the machine was infected it looked for other vulnerable computers, with millions of Windows computers around the world the virus spread quickly. Anti-virus firm Symantec estimated that more than 500,000 computers worldwide were infected by the worm and its variants.