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Computer Consultant Pleads Guilty to Infecting People’s PCs

According to the office of US Attorney, a consultant on computer security pleaded guilty on April 16, 2008 for loading malicious software onto several thousands of PCs all over the country in order to steal personal information and about $20,000 from the end-users' bank accounts, as reported by MercuryNews on April 16, 2008.

The US Attorney's Office said that 26-year-old, John Schiefer, admitted using networks of bot-infected computers called 'botnets' to commit identity theft on his victims by extracting private information from their computers and intercepting their communications, as reported by XINHUA on April 17, 2008.

According to reports, Schiefer and his accomplices installed a botnet program onto nearly 150,000 PCs which were infected with malware.

Reports also say that Schiefer was a known person in the "botnet underground" and is the first in the US to admit in court of committing wiretapping with the help of botnets, networks of computers that are controlled remotely, as reported by AFP on April 16, 2008.

Schiefer, who called himself "acidstorm" on the Internet, is scheduled for sentence on August 20, 2008. He is to fulfill a term in federal jail for up to 60 years and pay $1.75 Million in fine.

According to investigations, Schiefer gathered the personal information from PayPal.com to carry out unauthorized purchases with the stolen data and also to sell it off to others, as reported by MercuryNews on April 16, 2008.

Thomas O'Brien, Attorney of the US said that while a number of technological resources are available for computer criminals, the nation has its own experts along with an adequate number of legal solutions to penalize those who abuse the Internet for wicked purposes, as reported by XINHUA on April 17, 2008.

Schiefer also acknowledged that he used malware for stealing data from PStore, an area to securely store information for users of Microsoft OSs.

He also admitted defrauding a Dutch online advertising firm by loading a malicious code onto thousands of PCs in place of the firm's own programs.

Mark Krause, Assistant US Attorney, commented that identity theft was a severe problem in the US and here was someone who in the profession of making computers secure was also infecting them, as reported by MercuryNews on April 16, 2008.

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