Botnet Zombie Maker Faces 50 Years

Federal Authorities have arrested and charged a California man with hijacking hundreds of thousands of computers and creating a vast zombie network that launched denial of service attacks and spewed spam.

Special agents arrested Jeanson James Ancheta, 20, of Downey on charges he profited from the use of “botnets” — a network of hijacked computers used to launch attacks or to send massive quantities of spam.

The 17-count indictment alleges Ancheta scripted the malicious computer code, distributed it and sold access to the approximately 400,000 infected machines, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesperson for United States Attorney Central District of California.

Ancheta also allegedly used the botnets to generate $60,000 in income from the illegal installation of adware on the infected computers. He is said to be a member of the “botmaster underground,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The indictments were handed down in United States District Court in Los Angeles, and include several separate charges of attempting to cause damage to protected computers, causing damage to computers used by the federal government in national defense, accessing protected computers without authorization to commit fraud, and money laundering.

Ancheta allegedly broke into computers at the weapons division of the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, Calif., and at the U.S. Department of Defense.

This is the first prosecution of its kind in the United States, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office prosecuting the case.

If convicted of all charges in the indictment, Ancheta faces a statutory maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

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