Calif. Man Arrested for Running Botnet

A California man was arrested by federal authorities on Thursday, accused of running a 400,000-computer network for illegal activities. This network, called a "botnet," contains systems that have been compromised by a hacker who can upload files or control them remotely through an IRC channel.

20 year-old Jeanson Achenta spread a trojan horse application called "rxbot" to the machines, which most notably infected government computers in the Weapons Division of the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center. He also is accused of uploading adware onto the compromised systems.

Achenta will be charged with 17 counts ranging from conspiracy, fraud, money laundering, and charges related to tampering with government computers.

From the botnet, authorities say Achenta was able to make about $60,000 in cash and bought a BMW with his earnings from the scheme. His arrest would be the first for a botnet operator in the United States.

Authorities in other countries have already begun to crackdown on the problem. In the Netherlands, a group was recently arrested on the suspicion of running a botnet of approximately 1.5 million computers around the world.

Most of the money Achenta made was through deals with advertising service companies who paid him a fee to display their ads in his program. The identities of the companies were not disclosed, nor is it clear if they were aware of the money-making scheme.

According to Symantec, bots are being detected twice as frequently in the first half of 2005 over last year, with an average of just over 10,000 detections per day. The security company says this could be the reason why there has been an increase of denial of service and extortion attacks in recent months.

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