Feeds

Scottish botnet master jailed for 18 months

Controlling the net from mum's front room

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A Scottish botnet master was this morning jailed for 18 months and ordered to pay £5,000 costs for hijacking many thousands of computers from his mum's front room.

Matthew Anderson, 33, from Drummuir, used the global network of compromised machines to send tens of millions of spam emails. The father of five, whose own home was too remote to get broadband, also stole personal data and spied on victims via their webcams.

Known in malware circles as "Warpigs", in 2005 he commissioned a Finnish programmer to create sophisticated, IRC-controlled bots and backdoor viruses, including "Breplibot". He disguised these Trojans as legitimate files, and used an existing list of four million email addresses to build the botnet through malicious attchments.

Anderson, who pleaded guilty in October, sat impassively in the dock at Southwark Crown Court as the sentence was delivered.

"Clearly, only a custodial sentence is justified," said Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC, spurning appeals by the defence for a suspended sentence.

The judge added that had the offences been committed since October 2008, when the maximum sentence for offences under section three of the Computer Misuse act was doubled to 10 years, Anderson's sentence would be "at least" 36 months.

According to the prosecution's opening note to the sentencing hearing, Anderson made only £12,800 between September 2005 and his arrest on 27 June 2006, by sending up to 50 million junk emails. Winston Lay, a Suffolk businessman who did not know Anderson was using illegal methods to distribute marketing material, paid him for business leads.

"The computers that I did this from did not come to any harm," he told investigating officers from the Met's Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) following his arrest.

"I did not steal information from them, I wasn't out to do identity theft or anything like that, my main aim was to support my family and generate leads for Winston. Winston did not know how I went about this, I just provided him with a list of emails once a week, maybe twice a week sometimes."

However, analysis of the computer Anderson used at his mum's showed he had stolen data. He had used his access to upload software to to log keystrokes, and to download intimate photographs, medical information, CVs, a will, and webcam images he had covertly captured.

In an IRC exchange with "CraDle", Anderson described how he took control of a teenage girl's computer and took pictures as she became upset.

Warpigs: had some chick on webcam
Warpigs: changed her screen about a bit n she started to cry lol
Warpigs: then she phoned her dad haha
CraDle: hidden webcam or?
Warpigs: yeah
CraDle: lol
Warpigs: took pics :D
Warpigs: lol
Warpigs: of her crying lol

Judge Rivlin said he took into account the "elective and selective" way Anderson deliberately stole sensitive data in sentencing.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.