Hacker sentenced to 21 months jail in TKBot Trojan horse case, Sophos reports

May 11, 2005 Sophos Press Release

An American hacker has been sent to jail after using a Trojan horse to break into innocent internet users' computers.

Raymond Paul Steigerwalt, from Indiana, has been sentenced to 21 months in jail for his involvement in an international hacking gang which broke into computers around the world, including PCs at the United States Department of Defense, with a Trojan horse.

Steigerwalt, 21, was a member of the international "Thr34t-Krew" hacking gang which launched a Trojan horse designed to break into internet-connected computers. The Troj/TKBot-A Trojan horse (also known as the TKWorm) exploited a vulnerability that is found on some Microsoft IIS web servers.

At least two computers belonging to the Department of Defense were infected and damaged by the malicious code. Between October 2002 and 7 March 2003, Steigerwalt and other members of the Thr34t-Krew gang were able to remotely control infected computers without the knowledge of the computers' owners.

"There is a growing trend for hacking gangs to break into innocent people's computers to spy, to steal, and to cause damage," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "All computer users should be aware of the risks and ensure their networks are properly defended. This sentence sends out a strong message to other hackers that infecting others with Trojan horses and other malware is not acceptable."

Steigerwalt, who pleaded guilty to the charges, has been ordered to pay $12,000 to the Department of Defense for damage caused by the Trojan horse.

In September 2003, Sophos reported how two men from the North East of England were also charged in connection with the Trojan horse. According to the UK's National High Tech Crime Unit both men were believed to be members of the Thr34t-Krew gang, and it was claimed that their activities had caused an estimated £5.5 million worth of damage.