Friday, November 09, 2007

Botmaster Cops to Four Felonies - UPDATE

Dan Goodin writes on The Register:

An American computer security consultant has agreed to plead guilty to four felony counts related to a series of schemes that used botnets to steal PayPal and online banking identities of Windows users and install malware on more than 250,000 machines.

John Kenneth Schiefer, 26, of Los Angeles, faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison and a fine of $1.75m, according to documents filed Friday in federal court. He pleaded guilty to accessing protected computers to conduct fraud, disclosing illegally intercepted electronic communications, wire fraud and bank fraud.

Schiefer, who went by names such as "Acid" and "Acidstorm," has long been a fixture in underground hacking circles. He sometimes adorned his instant message handles with phrases such as "remember the name or feel the pain" and "crime pays, and it also has an excellent benefits package." He was employed at a Los Angeles-based security firm known as 3G Communications, where he sometimes carried out his crimes, according to court documents.

The plea agreement caps an investigation involving the FBI that began in 2005, said Assistant US Attorney Mark Krause. He declined to say if charges would be filed against several conspirators mentioned in court documents, who went by names including "revolt," "Harr0," "butthead," "pr1me" and "dynamic". The case is the first time a crime related to botnets has been charged under US wiretap statutes.

More here.

UPDATE: 19:20 PST: Reuters coverage here, via MSNBC. - ferg


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