Zombie master sentenced to five years

A young hacker has been sentenced to nearly five years behind bars for running a zombie network.

21-year-old Jeanson James Ancheta was sent down for 57 months – four years and nine months – for running a zombie network and profitting from it by runnning pop up ads on the compromised system as well as hiring it out for spam campaigns and denial of service attacks.

As with many of these cases, Ancheta proves to be the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to collaring Net criminals. His network was advertised through an IRC channel labelled ‘botz4sale’.

And rather than keep his ill-gotten gains tucked away somewhere out of sight, he used them to buy lots of hardware to increase his attacks as well as a luxury BMW.

But it was perhaps his efforts to compromised computers and bolster his botnet which resulted in him infecting systems within the networks of the Weapons Division of the US Naval Air Warfare Center and the US Department of Defense that led to his downfall.

LA-resident Ancheta was arrested last November by the FBI. He had gone to FBI offices to collect systems seized from him in an earlier raid. On claiming ownership of the equipment, the FBI knew they had their man.

Ancheta had faced up to 50 years in prison, but even the near five-year sentence marks him out as receiving the longest ever sentence for this type of crime. He was also ordered to pay $15,000 to the US government departments affected by his escapades.

Other low fruits on the Net crime tree included Jeffrey Lee Parson, sentenced to a year and a half in jail in January of last year. The author of the Blaster-B worm, it is little wonder Parson was caught. Within the code of the virus he added his online ‘tag’ of ‘Teekid’ and a link to his website which hosted a small library of viruses available for download along with lyrics of various heavy metal bands.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security company Sophos described the sentencing of Ancheta as ‘the tip of the iceberg’.

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