Hacker sentenced to two years in federal prison

SACRAMENTO
October 8, 2008 7:47am
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•  Admitted herding zombies to attack websites

•  ‘Botnets are a 21st Century menace’


A Fairfield man who tried to shut down two websites by launching denial of service attacks with zombies will spend the next two years living in an Internet-free zone – a prison cell.

Gregory King, 21, was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $69,000 in restitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento says.

Online, Mr. King was known as Silenz, Silenz420, sZ, GregK, and Gregk707.

Mr. King admitted to using a “botnet” to conduct distributed denial of service attacks against two different business Web sites: Killanet and Castlecops, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Segal, who prosecuted the case.

A botnet is a network of malware-infected, zombie computers (bots) that can be used to conduct the attacks, send spam, and commit fraud over the Internet. Bots are also used to infect other computers and thus propagate the botnet.

The owners of the infected computers do not know that their computers have been infected with “botware,” but their computers can nonetheless be secretly directed by the “bot herder,” the person in control of the botnet.

In a distributed denial of service attack, a bot herder directs the bots to flood a victim computer with information and thereby disable the target computer.

Mr. King admitted to controlling about 7,000 bots and using them to attack Killanet and Castlecops. Killanet is an interactive forum where members could share advice on graphic design, web design, photography, and gaming and was attacked in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Castlecops is an Internet security community specializing in anti-phishing, malware analysis, and combatting spam and was attacked in 2007.

A year ago, FBI agents went to Mr. King’s home to arrest him. After agents knocked on the front door, Mr. King ran out the back door, hid a laptop computer in the backyard, and then returned to answer the front door, prosecutors say.

Eventually the laptop was found and searched. It contained, among other things, botnet software and references to Mr. King’s various Internet monikers, according to Mr. Segal, the prosecutor in this case.

“Botnets are a 21st Century menace. Hackers need to know that if they engage in this kind of conduct, they risk federal prosecution, prison, and a restitution order that will be with them for a long time,” says U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott.


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