Two teenage hackers, who were convicted for their involvement with the Randex worm, used a 30,000-strong Windows botnet to beat opponents in online video game matches.
The Canadian and British youths, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were members of an online gaming gang that used the zombie army to continuously click certain games Web sites so the gang could gain more points.
"This case was a prime example of how the Internet-using public, industry and international law enforcement can work together in order to identify, to disrupt and ultimately prosecute those engaging in criminality on the Internet," said Detective Inspector Chris Simpson of the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit. "It's clear that the technology allowing individuals, loosely affiliated groups and indeed organised crime gangs to create and utilise networks of compromised computers is becoming increasingly accessible. That trend is likely to continue with the ever-increasing online population."
The youths were independently sentenced in their home countries. A South Cheshire juvenile court issued the British youth with a six-month suspended sentence, and the Canadian youth was sentenced to nine months' probation in May this year.
Botnets, armies of compromised networked computers, have become a common tool for professional spammers.
"I would like to reassure users of the Internet that law enforcement is working at local, national and international levels in order to tackle with the botnet phenomenon," Simpson added.
The Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit currently has nine employees, many of whom have paid for their own computer training.