Thursday, June 14, 2007

Operation Bot Roast

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported on the FBI's "Operation Bot Roast," which busted several criminal users of botnets:

_James C. Brewer, of Arlington, Texas. He was indicted Tuesday on charges of infecting more than 10,000 computers globally, including two Chicago-area hospitals operated by the Bureau of Health Services in Cook County, Ill. The computers at the two hospitals were linked to the health care bureau's mainframe system. They repeatedly froze or rebooted from October to December last year, resulting in delayed medical services, according to the indictment. Brewer was released on a $4,500 bond, court records show.

_Robert Alan Soloway of Seattle. When he was arrested last month, he was described as one of the world's top spammers for allegedly using botnets to send out millions upon millions of junk e-mails since 2003. Soloway continued his activities even after Microsoft won a $7 million civil judgment against him in 2005 and after Robert Brauer [they mean Braver -jjl], the operator of a small Internet service provider in western Oklahoma, won a $10 million judgment. Soloway has pleaded not guilty to all charges in a 35-count indictment.

_Jason Michael Downey, of Covington, Ky. He was accused in Detroit last month of flooding his botnet-linked computers with spam for an 11-week period in 2004 and causing up to $20,000 in unspecified losses, according to court records.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, and follows on the heels of last year's prosecution of Jeanson James Ancheta of Los Angeles, or "botmaster," as he called himself. Like Brewer, he was prosecuted for the damage he caused to hospital computers, so botherders and spammers should beware of making use of hospital computers for their botnets.

Soloway, who was arrested on May 30 in a bust that already got a lot of press, was probably the biggest fish of these so far. His case follows the historically more common pattern--being tracked down and civilly prosecuted before being criminally charged.

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