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Dutch botnet duo sentenced

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Two young Dutch hackers who built a large botnet were sentenced to prison earlier this week. The main suspect, now 20, was handed a two-year sentence and a €9,000 f($11,800) fine, while his 28-year-old partner was given 18 months and ordered to pay €4,000 0 ($5,200). As they had both already served jail time, they were released this week.

The men, part of a larger hacking ring, and one other suspect, were arrested in 2005 for extorting a US company, stealing identities to purchase cameras and games consoles, and distribute spyware. The operation netted an estimated €60,000 over a period of six months.

The prime suspect created the Toxbot Trojan and another Trojan called Wayphisher to infect 2.5 million computers. His accomplice was responsible for nurturing the spread of the malware and maintaining a network of compromised PCs. Toxbot gave hackers control over compromised PCs, including the ability to log keystrokes. Systems compromised by Wayphisher directed users towards phishing sites instead of legitimate online banking sites.

Dutch internet provider Xs4all was the first to notice unusual activity on its network and warned authorities.

The FBI believe the men launched a denial of service attack against the Zango adware network in retaliation for the company's refusal to pay affiliate fees. Zango filed a legal complaint, but has since dropped the charges.

Four others involved in the ring (including the third man arrested in 2005) facing lesser charges will go to trial later this year.

In 2005, Dutch law enforcement officials alleged the gang worked for the Russian mob, but this was never established. ®

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