Teenage Zombie King Pleads Guilty to Hacking Military Computers

"SoBe" installed adware on a botnet of third-party compromised computers.

by / February 15, 2008

A teenager has pleaded guilty to seizing control of hundreds of thousands of zombie computers, using them to display cash-generating adverts. The male teenager, who was only identified in court documents by the initials "B.D.H" and used the online handle "SoBe," is said to have profited by installing adware on a bot network of innocent third-party compromised computers. Some of the attacked computers were based at the Weapons Division of the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, California and at the U.S. Department of Defense.

The juvenile also admitted in the Los Angeles District Court to conspiring with infamous hacker Jeanson James Ancheta who in May 2006 was sentenced to 57 months in jail for similar offences.

"The Internet has made it possible for a person in their teens not just to get up to mischief, but to inconvenience thousands whilst making a healthy profit. Zombie botnets can generate healthy profits for hackers: installing advertising pop-ups which generates income through affiliate schemes, renting out the network for hackers who wish to blackmail Web sites with DDoS attacks, or using them to steal information or pump out spam campaigns," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Running an illegal botnet is a serious crime, and those found guilty should be punished appropriately."

"B.D.H" is scheduled to be sentenced in May 2008, but is likely to escape a sentence as severe as Ancheta's because of his age at the time of the offence.