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30 November 2007, 12:45

New Zealand teenager accused of controlling botnet of 1.3 million computers

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An 18-year-old from Hamilton, New Zealand is under suspicion of infecting over 1.3 million computers worldwide with a worm in order to create a botnet which he then used to carry out DDoS and other attacks. According to Australian and New Zealand media sources, the botnet has allegedly been used for an attack on IRC servers and systems of various security firms, as a side-effect of which a University of Philadelphia server was inadvertently taken out. It has also been associated with at least one large-scale attack in Holland.

Operating under the codename "AKILL", the New Zealander accused of deploying the AKBot worm was picked up and interrogated during a joint operation with the FBI, according to New Zealand police. Although the operation, codenamed "Bot Roast", has been running since June 2007 and has not exclusively targeted "AKILL", he has been described as "... extremely clever", by Maarten Kleintjes, head of the police electronic crime centre: "he is one of the best in the world at developing this type of software". Nevertheless, it appears that he has not for now been charged, but has been released after co-operating with the police investigation. However, his computer was seized during the police raid and is currently undergoing forensic examination.

The 18-year-old is accused of heading a global gang known as the "A-Team" which operated primarily in New Zealand, Holland and the USA. The damage caused is estimated to amount to some EUR 13.5 million.

Parallel to events in New Zealand, the FBI reports that eight suspects have been charged and have either pleaded guilty or have been convicted for botnet activities within the framework of "Operation Bot Roast". In addition, 13 arrest warrants have been issued.


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