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Three charged with Seattle hospital botnet attack

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A federal grand jury has indicted a 20-year-old California man on charges that his botnet hijacked thousands of computers and crippled a hospital network, leaving intensive care systems paralysed and doctors' pagers useless, Associated Press reports.

Christopher Maxwell, of Vacaville, and two other unidentified juveniles are accused of creating a program to surreptitiously install software that netted them $100,000. Authorities allege that the trio received the money in fraudulent commissions from advertisments their software displayed on machines.

A January 2005 attack is said to have caused $150,000 of damage at Seattle's Northwest Hospital and Medical Center, though no patients were harmed. US Attorney John McKay cautioned: “In this case, the impact of the botnet could have been deadly.”

Prosecutors have estimated Maxwell's attacks may have affected 50,000 computers over a year, beginning in July 2004. If convicted of the charges, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. ®

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