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Botmaster Sentenced to 30-month Prison Term

On Thursday, Joshua Schichtel was sentenced to 30 months in prison, and ordered to three years of supervised release. The sentence comes after he pled guilty to selling access to botnets last August.

Schichtel, 30, of Phoenix, Arizona, pled guilty to one count of attempting to cause damage to multiple computers without authorization by the transmission of programs, codes or commands. 

The charges stem from his sale of command and control access to 72,000 computers, which were part of a botnet. However, it’s unknown how many bots he controlled as his sentencing and plea related to a single customer and instance. Previously, he was named in a 2004 complaint for using bots to launch DDoS attacks, but the charges were dismissed.

Schichtel isn’t the only botmaster that is spending time in the courthouse. Last month, Matjaž Škorjanc, 26, who is the suspected mastermind of the Mariposa botnet, went on trial in Solvenia. At the peak of its power, the Mariposa botnet contained some 8 million infected systems.

According to the Online Trust Alliance, one in ten computers in the U.S. are infected with malware designed to include the system in a botnet. The botnets can be used to send spam, launch DDoS attacks, or steal data.

Earlier this year, the OTA and several Web organizations and ISPs worked to develop an Anti-Bot Code of Conduct, which is a voluntary self regulation effort designed to help lower the impact of botnets nationwide.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.