Friday, January 27, 2006

Hacker pleads guilty to building, renting attack

A 20-year-old hacker admitted Monday to surreptitiously seizing control of hundreds of thousands of Internet-connected computers, using the zombie network to serve pop-up ads and renting it to people who mounted attacks on Web sites and sent out spam.

Jeanson James Ancheta, of Downey, Calif., pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to four felony charges for crimes, including infecting machines at two U.S. military sites, that earned him more than $61,000, said federal prosecutor James Aquilina.

Under a plea agreement, which still must be approved by a judge, Ancheta faces up to 6 years in prison and must pay the federal government restitution. He also will forfeit his profits and a 1993 BMW. Sentencing is schedule for May 1.

Prosecutors called the case the first to target profits derived from use of "botnets",' large numbers of computers that hackers commandeer and marshal for various nefarious deeds. The "zombie'' machines' owners are unaware that parasitic programs have been installed on them and are being controlled remotely. Botnets are being used increasingly to overwhelm Web sites with streams of data, often by extortionists. They feed off of vulnerabilities in computers that run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, typically machines whose owners haven't bothered to install security patches.

CATEGORIES : 1zombies, 1botnets, 1spyware, 1patching, 1convictions
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