A 20-year-old hacker pled guilty today to charges that he took over hundreds of thousands of computers to form huge bot nets, which he used to distribute spyware and spam across the Net, Reuters reports.
"Mr. Ancheta was responsible for a particularly insidious string of crimes," U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said. "He hijacked somewhere in the area of half a million computer systems. This not only affected computers like the one in your home, but it allowed him and others to orchestrate large-scale attacks."
Prosecutors say the case was unique because Ancheta was accused of profiting from his attacks by selling access to his "bot nets" to other hackers and planting adware, software that causes advertisements to pop up, into infected computers.
Among computers he attacked were some at the Weapons Division of the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, California, and at the U.S. Department of Defense.
In entering the guilty pleas, Ancheta admitted using computer servers he controlled to transmit malicious code over the Web to scan for and exploit vulnerable computers, which he then controlled as "zombie" machines.