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6/4/2009
07:58 PM
Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
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Suspected Child Porn Hub Taken Offline

Internet service provider Pricewert -- which trades under names such as 3FN and APS Telecom -- has been shut down and disconnected from cyberspace following allegations it was knowingly involved in major spam attacks, phishing campaigns, malware distribution, and child abuse.

Internet service provider Pricewert -- which trades under names such as 3FN and APS Telecom -- has been shut down and disconnected from cyberspace following allegations it was knowingly involved in major spam attacks, phishing campaigns, malware distribution, and child abuse.According to a press release from the FTC, Pricewert actively worked in cahoots with hackers, shielding its criminal clients by ignoring requests from the Internet security community asking for dangerous pages to be taken down.

The FTC further alleges that more than 4,500 different pieces of malware are controlled by command-and-control servers hosted by 3FN.

NASA computers are said to be among those targeted by attacks emanating from Pricewert's computers, with 22 reported separate attempts to infect the space agency.

Interestingly, the FTC has not yet been able to identify who was running Pricewert, whose assets have been frozen. Although the company claims to be based in the U.S., authorities believe that all of its employees are either in Estonia or the Ukraine.

The authorities should be applauded for taking action against a corner of the Internet that appears to have had no qualms about spreading misery through any means possible -- as long as it made them money.

This case still has to go to court, and prosecutors will have to prove their case; to be sure, many on the IT security scene will watch with interest to see if any impact on existing botnets and spam campaigns results.

My feeling is we won't see a dramatic slide in the levels of spam like we did last November, when infamous ISP McColo was ripped off the Internet and unsolicited email plummeted by 75 percent (for a while, at least).

Chances are the criminals will simply find move their operations elsewhere. But the shutdown is still a very positive step; anything we can do to disrupt the computer underground's activities has to be good for all of us.

Graham Cluley is senior technology consultant at Sophos, and has been working in the computer security field since the early 1990s. When he's not updating his other blog on the Sophos website you can find him on Twitter at @gcluley. Special to Dark Reading.

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