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Hacker Sentenced to Four Years Imprisonment for Installing Malware

John Schiefer, a computer security advisor in Los Angeles, has been ordered a 4-year sentence in federal jail on charges of employing malware to convert over 250,000 PCs into 'zombies' that facilitated him in stealing personal information. 27-year old hacker is also supposed to deposit a fine of $2,500.

According to reports, Howard Matz, US District Judge in the Los Angeles federal court, ordered the sentence against Schiefer on March 4, 2009.

Meanwhile, documents presented in the court revealed that Schiefer engaged both his work and home computers to steal the private information. To accomplish this task, he along with his associates took control of computers and installed malicious software that brought the systems within their botnet, enabling the criminals to seize the exchange of information between the computers and different websites.

Furthermore, Schiefer and his accomplices seized data from online bank accounts and PayPal and subsequently, misappropriated the data for stealing money out of those accounts and for making unauthorized purchases. As a result of this crime, Schiefer had to submit a restitution fee to PayPal and other firms, amounting to $19,000.

According to the reports, the hackers grabbed user identities straight from PStore (Protected Storage) system available in Windows' earlier versions. The law enforcement authorities said that the malware seized the so-called secure data from PStore and transmitted it to remote servers that Schiefer and his accomplices controlled.

Besides executing the financial swindle aimed at the users of the hijacked systems, Schiefer also pleaded guilty to illicitly planting adware on almost 150,000 compromised PCs without taking permission from their owners. Schiefer had installed the adware as per the instruction of an Internet advertising company based in the Netherlands that had partnered with Schiefer in the scheme. However, the company had asked Schiefer to acquire the computer owners' permission before carrying out the installations.

Meanwhile, at the time of admitting his crime in court, Schiefer agreed that he would compensate the advertising firm and the other companies he had cheated with a payment of almost $20,000, as reported by ComputerWorld on March 5, 2009.

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