A Brazilian man has been charged in connection with operating a botnet composed of more than 100,000 computers infected with malicious software allegedly designed to send spam, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday.
A federal grand jury in New Orleans handed down an indictment charging Leni de Abreu Neto, a 35-year-old from Taubate, Brazil, with one count of conspiracy to cause damage to computers worldwide. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and up to three years of supervised release, as well as a fine of $250,000 or more based on the gross amount of monetary loss determined to have been suffered by victims.
The indictment alleges that Neto conspired with Nordin Nasiri, a 19-year-old from Sneek, Netherlands, to "use, maintain, lease and sell an illegal botnet."
A botnet is a network of computers infected with software that can be remotely controlled. Typically, botnets are used to send spam or launch denial-of-service attacks to disable other computers. The owners of the computers used in a botnet, known as "zombies," usually have no idea their machines are infected.
Neto allegedly agreed with Nasiri to broker the sale of the botnet to a third party for 25,000 euros, or more than $37,000, according to a Justice Department statement.
Neto was arrested by Dutch authorities on July 29 in the Netherlands and is awaiting extradition to the U.S., while Nasiri was arrested in the Netherlands and is being prosecuted in that country, the Justice Department said.
The case is being investigated by the Cyber Squad unit of the FBI's New Orleans field office with assistance from the Dutch Hi-Tech Crime Unit and the Cyber Section of the Brazilian Federal Police.