Feeds

Bot herder pleads guilty to 'zombie' sales

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

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.