FTC shuts down bad-actor ISP

Remember last autumn, when the McColo takedown made the spam go away and brought sweet, sweet (relative) peace to all our inboxes for a while? It's not likely that the closure of Pricewert will have that sort of direct effect on most of our lives, but a district court judge's ruling to have the plug pulled on the ISP will certainly improve the Internet in other ways.

The ruling was made at the request of the FTC, which has a long history of history with Pricewert. The ISP is believed to have engaged in a variety of offenses -- botnets, yes, but also malware distribution, fake pharma sites, investment scams, and some of the very worst kinds of pornography. (Yeah, they had that. Yeah, they had that too.) Takedown requests made to the ISP -- operating under a variety of names, including 3FN, Triple Fiber Network, APX Telecom, APS Telecom, and APS Communication -- have been either ignored or dodged by shifting the content to another bank of IP addresses under Pricewert's control.

The takedown is just one step in the process of getting rid of an alleged bad actor. For now, the ISP is offline and its business assets have been frozen. Guilt or innocence will be decided in a court of law, and of course the ISP's upstream provider and data centers will have some thoughts on whether they want to do business with this outfit again.

Max Christopher, a spokesman for the company, told the press that the company has in the past attempted to work with law enforcement to deal with complaints, and that they'd heard nothing from the FTC prior to the shutdown, which "has ruined our reputation." That's cute, but the text of the complaint (PDF available here) indicates that Pricewert officials have been observed getting intimately involved with dirty doings, including "directly participating in the creation and configuration of a botnet." In one memorable incident cited, ""the head of Pricewert's Programming Department agrees to assist [in setting up a large botnet for a potential client], but complains upon learning of the size of the botnet that it will require a lot of work."

Pricewert is registered as an Oregon corporation, but its principals and senior staff are Eastern European and located overseas.

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