Botnet hunter pleads guilty

Pleads guilty to accessing a computer system with the intention of dishonestly obtaining payment for the installation of adware.

Owen Walker, the 18-year-old New Zealander also known as Akill, has pleaded guilty to all charges he was facing under the NZ Crimes Act for his part in attacking the University of Pennsylvania's computer system and in a global adware scheme.

Walker pleaded guilty in the Thames District Court on Tuesday to accessing a computer system with the intention of dishonestly obtaining payment for the installation of adware, accessing a computer system without authorization, and several other charges related to his role in the attacks.

He will be sentenced on May 28, and a pre-sentencing report will be prepared between now and then.

The pre-sentence report would cover home detention, community detention and community work, said Judge Arthur Tompkins.

The only victim loss that the police can quantify is the cost incurred by the University of Pennsylvania. The denial of service attack cost the university around US$13,000 to mitigate, according to the police summary of facts.

Walker allegedly launched the DoS attack in collaboration with a second offender, Ryan Goldstein, a student at the university. Walker has admitted his association with Goldstein and to gaining access to the university's servers through him. Walker told police that he used the university's server to update his botnet, and that the DoS attack was unintended.

Goldstein pleaded guilty to the charges last month in a U.S. court.

If reparation is ordered, Walker's share would be around NZ$8,000 (US$6284.80) said the summary.

Judge Tompkins made no mention of a potential jail sentence.

Walker received almost NZ$40,000 in total from adware companies for installing adware using his botnet, according to the police documents. He used the money to buy computer equipment and he also made investments in a business run by his parents. His mother and stepfather knew he was making money out of doing online work but they did not realize he was engaged in illegal activity, says the summary.

Walker, hiding behind sunglasses and with the hood of his black jacket pulled up, left the Thames District Court together with his mother and his lawyer.

He was caught during an international investigation, Operation Bot Roast, during which his home was raided in November by New Zealand police and an FBI agent.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ulrika Hedquist

Computerworld New Zealand
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?