Feeds

Bot herder pleads guilty to 'zombie' sales

Botnets used for profit in 'first of its kind' case

3 Big data security analytics techniques

A 20-year-old California man has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he sold access to networks of compromised PCs and made money from illicitly installed adware, prosecutors announced on Monday.

Jeanson James Ancheta of Downey, California, entered a plea of guilty to four of the original 17 charges in the case, according to a statement issued by the US Attorney for the Central District of California. The four charges include two counts of conspiracy, damaging Government computers used for national defence, and accessing protected computers to commit fraud.

According to the plea agreement, Ancheta used automated software to infect Windows systems and create botnets - centrally controlled networks of compromised PCs - to which he sold access. Computers at the China Lake Naval Air Facility were among those compromised by the botnets investigated in the case. He also used the botnets to garner affiliate revenue from adware, the agreement stated.

"Ancheta admitted generating roughly $60,000 in advertising affiliate proceeds by directing more than 400,000 infected computers that were part of his botnet armies to other computer servers he controlled where adware he had modified would surreptitiously download onto the zombies," the US Attorney's Office statement said.

Authorities arrested Ancheta last fall in a case that prosecutors labelled the "first ... of its kind in the nation", because the charges directly stem from the profitable use of a botnet, and not merely the damage done to computers through the spread of code.

The guilty plea marks the latest success for investigators' attempts to track down and prosecute bot herders, the name security researchers have given to people that control the networks of compromised computers. In October, Dutch authorities arrested three men in the Netherlands who allegedly controlled a network of more than 1.5 million compromised computers. In August, the FBI and Microsoft helped authorities in Turkey and Morocco track down two men suspected of creating and spreading the Zotob worm - a program that consisted of bot software modified to exploit a flaw in Windows 2000.

The four charges could result in a maximum of 25 years of prison time and fines of $1m, if the judge in the case rules that the sentences should be served consecutively and levies the maximum fine.

As part of the plea agreement, Ancheta will forfeit more than $60,000 in proceeds, a 1993 BMW, and various computer equipment. In addition, the defendant has agreed to pay nearly $15,000 in restitution to the Government, the US Attorney office statement said.

The California man will be sentenced on May 1. Gregory Wesley, the federal public defender representing Ancheta, could not immediately be reached for comment.

This article originally appeared on SecurityFocus

Copyright © 2006, SecurityFocus

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Arts and crafts store Michaels says 3 million credit cards exposed in breach
Meanwhile, Target investigators prepare for long process in nabbing hackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.