20-year-old 'botmaster' faces years behind bars

Jeanson James Ancheta, a well-known member of the "Botmaster Underground" who pleaded guilty in January to federal charges of conspiracy, fraud and damaging U.S. government computers, was given the longest sentence for spreading computer viruses, federal prosecutors said.

He was sentenced to 57 months in prison and three years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner, who also ordered him to pay $15,000 in restitution to the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, Calif., and forfeit to the government some $60,000 in illicit gains.

Ancheta was accused in the original 17-count indictment of hijacking some 500,000 computers using "bots," or programs that surreptitiously install themselves on computers so they can be controlled by a hacker. A botnet is a network of such robot, or "zombie," computers, which can harness their collective power to do considerable damage or send out huge amounts of junk e-mail.

Prosecutors say the case was unique because Ancheta was accused of profiting from his attacks by selling access to his botnets to other hackers and planting adware, software that causes advertisements to pop up, into infected computers.

In entering the guilty pleads, Ancheta admitted using computer servers he controlled to transmit malicious code over the Web to scan for and exploit vulnerable computers, which he then controlled as zombie machines.

News source: CNET News

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