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11/15/2007
05:13 AM
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Hats Off to the Feds

One of the deviants who spend their time writing software to wreak havoc with your companys computers will be spending a long time, as many as 60 years, in jail, thanks to the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

One of the deviants who spend their time writing software to wreak havoc with your companys computers will be spending a long time, as many as 60 years, in jail, thanks to the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.In the first prosecution of its kind in the nation, the United States District Court in Los Angeles brought a series of charges against John Schiefer, 26, a well-known member of the botnet underground who operated out of Los Angeles. This hacking technique, which has become quite popular in the last few years, involves compromising computers and then using them to commit acts, such as identity theft.

Schiefer and his cronies illicitly installed code and infected more than 250,000 computers. The crew would then look for items, such as Paypal usernames and passwords, access others bank accounts, and make purchases without the consent of the owners. The crook also acknowledged that he transferred both the wiretapped communications and the stolen Paypal information to others.

In a twist on the sordid botnet pastime, Schiefer signed up as a consultant with a Dutch Internet advertising company and promised to install the companys programs on computers only when the owners gave consent. Instead, he and two co-schemers installed that program on approximately 150,000 computers that were infected with their malware. The duped advertising company paid the crooks more than $19,000 for their work.

In court, Schiefer pleaded guilty to four felony counts: accessing protected computers to conduct fraud, disclosing illegally intercepted electronic communications, wire fraud and bank fraud. The crimes carry a potential 60 years in prison as well as fine of $1.75 million. Nice to see one of these crooks get his just deserts. Ideally, the FBI is using information from this case to get hot on the trail of more of these deviants.

Are you surprised that the FBI was able to track down a crook like Schiefer? Does this case mean that law enforcement officials are making progress in their fight against cybercrooks?

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