FBI Nabs Three in Operation Bot Roast
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It has only been in operation three months, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Operation Bot Roast has already landed three major spammers. In addition, one million PCs have been identified as belonging to zombie computer networks, launching spam and engaging in malicious activities under the unwitting noses of their owners. Keep reading to find out more about the initiative, and how you can protect your own computer.
A botnet is a network of computers enlisted when their owners unwittingly open a dangerous attachment in an email or by visiting a web page that has been booby-trapped to download malicious software to the PC. Once the malware is on the computer, “bot herders,” those who control large numbers of subverted computers, can make them do pretty much whatever they want: pump out tons of spam, send phishing messages, spy on the owners of the computers, and more. I wrote about botnets in early January of this year.
While the FBI has been notifying the owners of the PCs, another important part of the operation focused on the bot herders. So far, the bureau has arrested three people who used botnets for criminal purposes. The first of these, Robert Alan Soloway, of Seattle, Washington, earned the title of “Spam King.” He was charged with 35 counts of hijacking computers and forcing them to send tens of millions of spam messages advertising his spamming kits and email marketing services (read: botnet access). He lost a civil case to Microsoft over this in 2005, but has apparently continued to break the law. Soloway could spend 65 years in jail if he is found guilty of all charges.
The other two arrested by the FBI are somewhat less notorious. James C. Brewer, of Arlington, Texas, is believed to have infected thousands of computers, including many at two Chicago hospitals. Those infections forced the computers to reboot multiple times, interfering with the delivery of medical services. Jason Michael Downey, of Covington, Kentucky, was accused of engaging in an 11-week spam assault in 2004 that caused up to $20,000 in damages.
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