Arizona man imprisoned for selling access to botnets

The defendant gets a 30-month sentence after pleading guilty

A 30-year-old Phoenix man was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in prison for using botnets and selling access to them, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Joshua Schichtel, allegedly connected to a group of hackers who used denial-of-service attacks to target businesses, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Schichtel was allegedly a member of the so-called DDOS mafia, a group of hackers that attacked websites on behalf of a business owner, but 2004 charges in California were dropped because prosecutors didn't file an indictment by the required deadline.

He pleaded guilty on Aug. 17, 2011, in Washington, D.C., to one count of attempting to cause damage to multiple computers without authorization by the transmission of programs, codes or commands, a violation of the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Schichtel sold access to botnets, which are networks of computers that have been infected with a malicious computer program that allows unauthorized users to control infected computers, according to court documents. Customers who wanted to infect computers with malware would contact Schichtel and pay him to install malware on the computers that comprised those botnets, the DOJ said.

Schichtel pleaded guilty to causing software to be installed on approximately 72,000 computers on behalf of a customer who paid him US$1,500 for use of the botnet, the DOJ said in a press release.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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