A juvenile cohort of botmaster Jeanson James Ancheta pleaded guilty this week to using botnets to infect thousands of PCs, including those used by sensitive government agencies.
The male juvenile, known online as SoBe and identified in court documents as B.D.H., pleaded guilty to two counts of juvenile delinquency relating to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, causing damage to computers used by the federal government in national defense, and accessing protected computers without authorization to commit fraud.
The cyberattacker, scheduled to be sentenced on May 5, faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in custody, although juvenile defendants can be incarcerated only until they turn 21 years old. The plea agreement in the case contemplates a prison sentence of a year to 18 months.
B.D.H. admitted in U.S. District Court in Los Angles on Monday that he worked alongside Ancheta to gain remote access to thousands of U.S. computers, including some operated by the U.S. Defense Information Security Agency and Sandia National Laboratories, a facility with bases in New Mexico and California that works on nuclear weapons and other sensitive material.
Once adware was installed on victimized computers, Ancheta would demand payment from web advertisers for each fraudulent installation and then pay B.D.H. a portion of his profits.
Ancheta was able to avoid detection by varying download times, rates of adware installations and servers, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien.
The case was investigated by the FBI in conjunction with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.
Ancheta was sentenced in May 2006 to almost five years in prison for creating a zombie network of hundreds of thousands of compromised PCs. He was also ordered to pay $15,000 to the defense organizations affected by his attacks.