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Alleged Kiwi botnet mastermind in court

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An 18-year-old suspected of masterminding a botnet-fueled international cybercrime network has appeared in a New Zealand court.

Owen Thorn Walker, of Whitianga in New Zealand's North Island, was charged with a variety of computer hacking offences including two counts of accessing a computer for dishonest purposes, two counts of accessing a computer system without permission, and a single count of damaging a computer system as well as possessing hacking software, Radio New Zealand reports. If convicted, Walker faces up to 10 years imprisonment.

Prosecutors allege that Walker (AKA AKILL) was the chief of a gang that infected an estimated 1.3 million computers worldwide as part of a scam to harvest online banking and credit card credentials. Members of the gang also made money by running spam and denial of service attacks, as well as by loading compromised PCs with adware.

Walker was released on bail following his appearance in The Thames District Court, in northern New Zealand. The teenager was arrested in late November as part of a larger FBI-led operation aimed at cracking down on the trade in compromised PCs, codenamed Operation Bot Roast. ®

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