Russian spam mastermind jailed for creating botnet

Spam in email inbox The Bredolab botnet was pumping out billions of junk mail messages

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A cybercrime mastermind who hijacked the PCs of more than 30 million people has been jailed for four years.

Russian hi-tech criminal Georgiy Avanesov was found guilty of computer sabotage by an Armenian court.

Mr Avanesov was tried and sentenced in Armenia, as he was arrested at the country's Yerevan airport in 2010.

The authorities closed in on Mr Avanesov after they took and dismantled the network of computers he controlled.

Bredolab began operating in 2009 and Mr Avanesov used a variety of techniques, including automated attacks and phishing messages, to expand it. A network of hijacked machines run in this way is known as a botnet and they have become the staple of many hi-tech criminals.

At its height, the Bredolab botnet - as it was called by security investigators - was sending out more than three billion junk mail messages a day. The network was also hired out to other cybercriminals who used it to carry out attacks on websites, advertise fake anti-virus programs and send out their own spam and viruses.

By sending out spam and doing work for hire, Bredolab reportedly produced a revenue of about 100,000 euros (£80,000) a month for its 27-year-old creator.

In October 2010, Dutch police gained control of the Bredolab botnet and began taking it apart to reveal who was controlling it. Mr Avanesov tried to hamper this investigation using a web-based attack on the police but the attempt to regain control of Bredolab failed. His arrest followed soon after.

The trial is a milestone for Armenia as it is reportedly the first time the country has convicted a computer criminal.

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