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FTC Shuts Doors On Notorious Rogue Internet Service Provider

3FN service specialized in hosting botnets, phishing sites, child pornography, and other illegal services, authorities say
At the Federal Trade Commission's request, a district court judge has permanently shut down 3FN, a rogue Internet service provider that recruited, hosted, and actively participated in the distribution of spam, spyware, child pornography, and other illegal content.

The ISP's computer servers and other assets have been seized and will be sold by a court-appointed receiver. The operation has been ordered to turn over $1.08 million in ill-gotten gains to the FTC.

In June 2009, the FTC charged that 3FN, which does business under a variety of names, actively recruited and colluded with criminals to distribute harmful electronic content, including spyware, viruses, Trojan horses, phishing schemes, botnet command-and-control (C&C) servers, and pornography. The FTC alleged that the defendant advertised its services in the darkest corners of the Internet, including a chat room for spammers.

The FTC complaint alleged that 3FN actively shielded its criminal clientele by either ignoring takedown requests issued by the online security community, or by shifting its criminal elements to other Internet protocol addresses it controlled to evade detection.

The FTC also alleged that 3FN deployed and operated botnets. According to the FTC, the defendant recruited bot herders and hosted the C&C servers.

Transcripts of instant-message logs filed with the district court show the defendants' senior employees discussing the configuration of botnets with bot herders. And, in filings with the district court, the FTC alleged that more than 4,500 malicious software programs were controlled by C&C servers hosted by 3FN.

This malware included programs capable of keystroke logging, password stealing, and data theft; programs with hidden backdoor remote control activity; and programs involved in spam distribution, the FTC said.

On June 15, 2009, the court issued a preliminary injunction to prohibit 3FN's illegal activities and require its upstream Internet providers and data centers to stop providing services to 3FN.

The court has now ordered a permanent bar on the illegal activities of 3FN and its agents. It has appointed a receiver and instructed him to liquidate the operation's assets.

The defendants named in the FTC's complaint are Pricewert LLC, also doing business as 3FN.net, Triple Fiber Network, APS Telecom, APX Telecom, APS Communications, and APS Communication.

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