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Hacker gets 30 months for botnet that hit 72,000 PCs

Hacker Joshua Schichtel on Thursday received a 30-month prison sentence after pleading guilty last year to creating a botnet that infected 72,000 computers.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 30-year-old Schichtel sold access to botnets, which are networks of thousands of malware-infected computers, to scammers, who would contact Schichtel and pay him to install the malware on computers that comprised the botnet.

The hacker admitted to allowing software to be installed on about 72,000 computers on behalf of customers who paid him $1,500 (£938) for his services, according to the DOJ.

In August 2011, Schichtel pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to cause damage to multiple computers without authorisation by the transmission of programs, codes or commands, in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Phoenix-based Schichtel was sentenced by Chief US District Judge Royce Lamberth in DC. Along with the 30-month prison term, Schichtel was ordered to serve three years of supervised release.

As Ars Technica pointed out, Schichtel has a long history of computer crime.

A 2004 complaint charged Schichtel and three other defendants with conspiring to use thousands of infected computers to launch attacks against e-commerce websites, robbing the victims of more than $2 million (£1.3 million) in revenue and costs. The charges were dismissed when the government failed to meet the deadline to obtain an indictment, Ars said.

Earlier this year, Microsoft identified two members of the Zeus banking Trojan that stole more than $100 million (£62.6 million). In July, meanwhile, FireEye researcher Atif Mushtaq and colleagues from Spamhaus and CERT-GIB finished off Grum, the world's third-largest spam botnet.