Botnet boss Bentley sentenced to 41 months behind bars.
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
The Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit in the UK 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 Metropolitan Police 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 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."
"I'm not going to say I'm delighted," said Paul Ducklin, Head of
Technology at Sophos. "A prison sentence is never really a happy
result for anyone. But I am encouraged that law enforcement are
showing their willingness, and ability, to do something about
Ducklin points out that, although Bentley doesn't count as a Mr
Big in the world of cybercrime, this conviction is important and
his activities inexcusable. "Stealing computer resources from
someone else is a crime on its own," says Ducklin. "Using those
stolen resources to commit further crimes, such as
denial-of-service attacks or illegal software installs, just makes
a bad thing worse."
Ducklin knows what he is talking about, having been fighting
malware since the industry first started. On the 13 June, Ducklin
is an invited expert attending a Visioning Forum in Sydney, part of
the Australian Government's National E-Security Week.
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.