Feds bust botnet boss

According to court documents, a California man was this week indicted on four counts of electronic transmission of codes to cause damage to protected computers. Greg King,  also known as “Silenz, Silenz420, sZ, GregK, and Gregk707, “ allegedly controlled over 7,000 such “bots” and used them to conduct multiple distributed denial of service attacks against websites of two businesses -- CastleCops and KillaNet.

The botnet attacks on KillaNet took place between July 2004 and February 2007 causing at least $5,000 in damage.  KillaNet said on its Web site today that “King caused thousands of dollars in losses of time and content through many attacks against our webserver.”In addition King allegedly taunted KillaNet in a series of emails during the attacks. The attack against CastleCops took place in February 2007.

A botnet is a network of infected computers that, unbeknownst to their owners, are compromised by a hacker and programmed to respond to a hacker’s commands. The infected computers are referred to as “bots,” “zombies,” or “drones.”

When agents went to arrest the suspect at his residence, King fled out the back door of the residence carrying a laptop computer, tossing it in the bushes in the backyard. Agents obtained a warrant to search King’s backyard and seized the computer.

The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of transmission of damaging code to a protected computer is ten years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine according to Assistant United States Attorney Matthew D. Segal, a prosecutor with the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office who is handling the case. The FBI investigated the particulars of the case as well.

The indictment against King was returned on September 27 and unsealed on Monday October 1.  

Earlier this year the Department of Justice and FBI said ongoing investigations have identified over 1 million botnet crime victims. The FBI is working with industry partners, including the Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University, to notify the victim owners of the computers. Microsoft and the Botnet Task Force have also helped out the FBI. Through this process the FBI may uncover additional incidents in which botnets have been used to facilitate other criminal activity, the FBI said in a statement. 

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