‘Botmaster’ Pleads Guilty to Zombie Profits

A 20-year-old Los Angeles man faces up to 25 years in prison after
pleading guilty Monday to federal charges he profited from an army of
400,000 zombie computers.

Jeanson James Ancheta admits earning more
than $60,000 from adware and spam, according to federal prosecutors who charged Ancheta with being part of a “botmaster
underground” that took control of computer systems.

Along with violating the Computer Fraud Abuse Act and CAN-SPAM Act,
Ancheta also admitted to damaging computers at the U.S. Naval Air
Warfare Center and the Defense Information Systems Agency.

“Ancheta admitted using computer servers he controlled to transmit
malicious code over the Internet to scan for and exploit vulnerable
computers,” according to the U.S. district attorney in Los Angeles. The
case is “the first prosecution of its kind in the nation,” according to
a statement.

After infecting thousands of computers, the Los Angeles man directed
those systems to connect to an Internet Relay Chat channel to scan for
other vulnerable computers, according to prosecutors.

Ancheta used the infected computers under his control to earn $60,000
in adware affiliate fees. The man avoided detection from advertising
companies by using multiple servers purchased from the adware profits.

Ancheta also earned $3,000 by renting his botnet to computer users
wishing to launch Denial-of-Service attacks and send spam. The
20-year-old advised people interested in using his botnet on the best
methods, according to federal officials.

As part of his guilty plea, Ancheta will turn over $60,000 in cash
earned from the zombie computer network, a BMW and computer
equipment. Ancheta also will pay $15,000 for damaging the federal
computer networks.

Ancheta is scheduled to be sentenced May 1.

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