Friday, August 29, 2008

Brazilian Charged In Connection with Operating Botnet

The U.S. Department of Justice reported a Brazilian man has been charged in connection with operating a botnet composed of more than 100,000 computers infected with malicious software allegedly designed to send spam.

Leni de Abreu Neto, a 35-year-old from Taubate, Brazil, has been charged by a federal grand jury in New Orleans, with one count of conspiracy to cause damage to computers worldwide. If convicted, Neto will face up to five years in prison and up to three years of supervised release, as well as a fine of $250,000 or more based on the gross amount of monetary loss determined to have been suffered by victims.

The indictment alleges that Neto has conspired with Nordin Nasiri, a 19-year-old from Sneek, Netherlands, to use, maintain, lease and sell an illegal botnet. According to a Justice Department statement, Neto allegedly agreed with Nasiri to broker the sale of the botnet to a third party for 25,000 euros, or more than $37,000.

A botnet is a network of computers that have infected with software, which can be remotely controlled. Typically, botnets are used to send spam or launch denial-of-service attacks to disable other computers. The owners of the computers used in a botnet, known as zombies, usually have no idea their computers are infected.

According to the Justice Department, Neto was arrested by Dutch authorities on July 29 in the Netherlands, and now he is awaiting extradition to the U.S., while Nasiri was arrested in the Netherlands and is being prosecuted in that country. The Cyber Squad unit of the FBI’s New Orleans field office is still investigating the case with assistance from the Cyber Section of the Brazilian Federal Police and the Dutch Hi-Tech Crime Unit.

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