May 5, 2006 1:14 PM PDT

California man pleads guilty to bot attack

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A 20-year-old California man has pleaded guilty to launching a bot network attack that compromised computers at a Seattle hospital and several universities.

Christopher Maxwell, a Vacaville, Calif., resident, was accused of intentionally damaging a computer he was not authorized to access and using it to commit fraud. He made the guilty plea on Thursday in federal district court in Seattle.

Back in mid-2004, Maxwell and a group of co-conspirators created a network of bots, or automated programs, using more than 13,000 commandeered computers, or zombies. Maxwell used the bot network to install adware on compromised computers, reaping commissions of approximately $100,000 for himself and his co-conspirators, according to the initial complaint.

In order to run the bot network, Maxwell used high-powered computers from California State University at Northridge, the University of Michigan and the University of California at Los Angeles, the complaint said.

Some of the computers affected by Maxwell's efforts included those at Northwest Hospital in Seattle. As the bot network scanned the hospital computers to load adware, network traffic increased to such an extent that it interrupted communications of the hospital's surgical team, diagnostic imaging services and laboratory services, according to the complaint.

The cost to the hospital to address the botnet problem was initially pegged at almost $150,000.

Maxwell is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 4 in the Seattle court.

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12 comments

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sabotage
These cases need to be treated as sabotage, with
a minimum sentence of life in prison as well as
a possible death penalty for aggravated offenses.
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
sabotage
These cases need to be treated as sabotage, with
a minimum sentence of life in prison as well as
a possible death penalty for aggravated offenses.
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hospital needs new IT department
I don't want to say, by any means, that this guy shouldn't plead guilty, but something is wrong with an IT department that can't keep spyware out of the network. Especially to the point of hindering the speed of the network connection...it wouldn't take too much spyware to hinder the internet connection, but to hinder the speed of the internal network communication...that would take a ton of spyware.
Posted by reb_elmagnifico (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hospital needs new IT department
I don't want to say, by any means, that this guy shouldn't plead guilty, but something is wrong with an IT department that can't keep spyware out of the network. Especially to the point of hindering the speed of the network connection...it wouldn't take too much spyware to hinder the internet connection, but to hinder the speed of the internal network communication...that would take a ton of spyware.
Posted by reb_elmagnifico (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hospital IT: secure your network stupid!
The 'bot writer was wrong, but what about the Hospital IT Director? Anyone who installs virus- and spam-friendly software such as MS Windows should take every precaution against attack, such as closing open access to the hospital network and regularly updating the Windows software.
Posted by danxy (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hospital IT: secure your network stupid!
The 'bot writer was wrong, but what about the Hospital IT Director? Anyone who installs virus- and spam-friendly software such as MS Windows should take every precaution against attack, such as closing open access to the hospital network and regularly updating the Windows software.
Posted by danxy (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Job security
Although it is people who don't know enough to anti-spyware/
adware/virus software that give me job security as a computer
tech, I do think that the jerks who write this kind of malicious
garbage should be sent to prison.
I wound up switching to Apple mainly because there are only 66
viruses for that platform compared to over 150,000 for Windows.
Posted by Godstalker (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Job security
Although it is people who don't know enough to anti-spyware/
adware/virus software that give me job security as a computer
tech, I do think that the jerks who write this kind of malicious
garbage should be sent to prison.
I wound up switching to Apple mainly because there are only 66
viruses for that platform compared to over 150,000 for Windows.
Posted by Godstalker (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Let's hope not TOO many will switch to Apple
That's one of the 'benefits' of using a Mac or so I hear from every Mac fan I come across (I know a few personally, unfortunately.. ;)

That's great and all, but if Macs are going to become extremely popular in due time (as these freinds of mine profess) then inevitibly Spyware companies and the hackers that profit from them will up the ante as necessary and adapt just as quickly as the market share changes. They won't ignore Apple just because they have all along, it will just become another target (a la Firefox; which USED to be foolproof and in my experience it seems that more and more popups and the like seem to get through as time goes on. Only a matter of time...)

Of course assuming that this never happens, a few people switching to Apple here and there shouldn't cause any problems. It's like abusing antibiotics... it can be a good thing to use them, but it isn't always, and if everyone does so unecessarily.. we'll have problems (not an exact anology but a similar concept anyway).
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PS: One more thought..
Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention this too:

The target audience for Macs are laypeople and artisians who not only probably have less technical knowledge than someone who uses Windows by choice but also don't need it, supposedly, to use a Mac efficiently.

Thus, as Mac market share increases, it will most likely increase the greatest in that sector of the market. So, eventually, Mac will represent a group of people that generally will include those without the knowledge to play it safe on their PC. The stigma is that 'Macs are safe!' and thus they will click on anything without much care to security ('what's the worst that could happen?').

This I would imagine would be especially so due to the marketing of the Mac. Apple markets Mac as something for everyone (hence the commercials with the 'cool dude') and iPods which are already largely infesting the market have probably led some people there already, even if they didn't know what a Mac was before (i.e. their office computer was Windows, their discount Dell machine their cousin told them to buy had Windows, etc.)
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
Link Flag
Let's hope not TOO many will switch to Apple
That's one of the 'benefits' of using a Mac or so I hear from every Mac fan I come across (I know a few personally, unfortunately.. ;)

That's great and all, but if Macs are going to become extremely popular in due time (as these freinds of mine profess) then inevitibly Spyware companies and the hackers that profit from them will up the ante as necessary and adapt just as quickly as the market share changes. They won't ignore Apple just because they have all along, it will just become another target (a la Firefox; which USED to be foolproof and in my experience it seems that more and more popups and the like seem to get through as time goes on. Only a matter of time...)

Of course assuming that this never happens, a few people switching to Apple here and there shouldn't cause any problems. It's like abusing antibiotics... it can be a good thing to use them, but it isn't always, and if everyone does so unecessarily.. we'll have problems (not an exact anology but a similar concept anyway).
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PS: One more thought..
Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention this too:

The target audience for Macs are laypeople and artisians who not only probably have less technical knowledge than someone who uses Windows by choice but also don't need it, supposedly, to use a Mac efficiently.

Thus, as Mac market share increases, it will most likely increase the greatest in that sector of the market. So, eventually, Mac will represent a group of people that generally will include those without the knowledge to play it safe on their PC. The stigma is that 'Macs are safe!' and thus they will click on anything without much care to security ('what's the worst that could happen?').

This I would imagine would be especially so due to the marketing of the Mac. Apple markets Mac as something for everyone (hence the commercials with the 'cool dude') and iPods which are already largely infesting the market have probably led some people there already, even if they didn't know what a Mac was before (i.e. their office computer was Windows, their discount Dell machine their cousin told them to buy had Windows, etc.)
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
Link Flag
 

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