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News

Successful hacker prosecution with the help of Sophos

Sophos : 13 June, 2008  (Technical Article)
Sophos has assisted Computer Crime Division of Metropolitan Police in finding and convicting Florida hacker for botnet crimes
IT security and control firm Sophos assisted the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit in bringing a case against Robert Matthew Bentley. The hacker, of Panama City, Florida, who went by the alias 'LSDigital', had previously pleaded guilty to charges relating to Botnet activities and has been sentenced by prosecutors in Pensacole, Florida, to 41 months behind bars and fined USD 65,000.

The Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit first brought Bentley's illegal activities to light when investigating complaints of suspicious activity from Newell Rubbermaid. The corporation, which counts popular stationery brands Parker and Papermate among its portfolio, had been targeted by Bentley's Botnet operation which turned PCs into zombies, bringing so much traffic to the company's website that it ground to a halt. Bentley and his associates generated thousands of dollars by hijacking PCs and using them to display adverts.

In December 2006, the Computer Crime Unit worked with Sophos and the US Secret Service to identify Bentley as the person responsible, with other unidentified conspirators, for infecting a company's network of computers in Europe with adware. Bentley received payment through a Dutch-based operation called Dollar Revenue for these malicious hacks and the placement of adverts. Computers in Florida were used to commit the offences between October 2005 and November 2006.

'These computer criminals have no qualms about infecting computers around the world and causing thousands of pounds of damages,' said Bob Burls, detective constable with the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit. 'In their greed, they cause devastating damage to both private and company computers. The sentence Bentley has received will act as a deterrent and show that regardless of where you are in the world, if you commit this type of crime, we will bring you to justice."

'The Computer Crime Unit ought to be commended for the hard work that went into building this case, and for levying an appropriate sentence,' said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant for Sophos. 'This sends out a strong message to would-be hackers that they could well end up behind bars. These types of prosecutions would not be possible without collaborative efforts between the security industry and the authorities. Sophos calls on all members within the industry to assist the authorities where possible - it not only helps customers, it also makes the cyberworld a safer place.'

Sophos recommends all computer users protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can control network access and defend against the threats of spam, hackers, spyware and viruses.
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