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By | Dan Goodin 11th June 2008 18:30

Rubbermaid bot master sentenced to 41 months

Adware meltdown

A US-based hacker has been sentenced to 41 months in jail for breaking into corporate computers in Europe and making them part of a money-generating botnet.

Robert Matthew Bentley, 21, of Panama City, Florida, was also ordered to perform three years of supervised release once his prison time is over and to pay $65,000 in restitution, according to federal prosecutors in Pensacola, Florida.

In March, Bentley, who sometimes went by the alias LSDigital, pleaded guilty to two felony counts related to his botnet activities, which inflicted more than $150,000 worth of damage on Newell Rubbermaid. Starting as early as December 2006, Bentley and several unnamed co-conspirators installed customized bots on hundreds of the company's computers. The malware generated so much traffic on Rubbermaid's servers that its network stopped functioning.

New infections from the attack were being detected as recently as March, four months after Bentley was arrested. Federal agents continue to investigate the uncharged suspects. At least one of them lived in Philadelphia.

Federal prosecutors began their case after the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit in London fielded a complaint from Rubbermaid representatives in Europe. According to court documents, Bentley and his cronies generated "thousands of dollars" by installing adware from on the infected machines.

The bot masters used the domain name as a command and control channel. They breached Newell Rubbermaid using at least three malicious files bearing the names 84785_redworld[1].exe, mssecure.exe and msiupdate.exe.

The prosecution is part of an FBI campaign known as Operation Bot Roast, which is designed to crack down on the botnet epidemic, in which thousands of PCs are silently infected and marshaled by miscreants to send spam, perform web attacks and carry out other crimes. On Tuesday, 21-year-old bot master Gregory C. King of Fairfield, California, pleaded guilty to hacking offenses under the same program. ®

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