[AfrICANN-discuss] UNITED STATES: FTC Shuts Down Notorious Rogue Internet Service Provider

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Tue Jun 9 12:10:44 SAST 2009

UNITED STATES: FTC Shuts Down Notorious Rogue Internet Service Provider*
Sunday, June 07, 2009*

*FTC Shuts Down Notorious Rogue Internet Service Provider, 3FN Service
Specializes in Hosting Spam-Spewing Botnets, Phishing Web sites, Child
Pornography, and Other Illegal, Malicious Web Content*

A rogue Internet Service Provider that recruits, knowingly hosts, and
actively participates in the distribution of spam, child pornography, and
other harmful electronic content has been shut down by a district court
judge at the request of the Federal Trade Commission. The ISP''s upstream
providers and data centers have disconnected its servers from the Internet.

According to the FTC, the defendant, Pricewert LLC, which does business
under a variety of names including 3FN and APS Telecom, actively recruits
and colludes with criminals seeking to distribute illegal, malicious, and
harmful electronic content including child pornography, spyware, viruses,
trojan horses, phishing, botnet command and control servers, and pornography
featuring violence, bestiality, and incest. The FTC alleges that the
defendant advertised its services in the darkest corners of the Internet,
including a forum established to facilitate communication between criminals.

The complaint alleges that Pricewert actively shielded its criminal
clientele by either ignoring take-down requests issued by the online
security community, or shifting its criminal elements to other Internet
protocol addresses it controlled to evade detection.

The FTC also alleges that the defendant engaged in the deployment and
operation of botnets - large networks of computers that have been
compromised and enslaved by the originator of the botnet, known as a "bot
herder." Botnets can be used for a variety of illicit purposes, including
sending spam and launching denial of service attacks. According to the FTC,
the defendant recruited bot herders and hosted the command-and-control
servers - the computers that relay commands from the bot herders to the
compromised computers known as "zombie drones." Transcripts of
instant-message logs filed with the district court show the defendants"
senior employees discussing the configuration of botnets with bot herders.
And, in filings with the district court, the FTC alleges that more than
4,500 malicious software programs are controlled by command-and-control
servers hosted by 3FN. This malware includes programs capable of keystroke
logging, password stealing, and data stealing, programs with hidden backdoor
remote control activity, and programs involved in spam distribution.

The FTC charged that the defendants'' distribution of illegal, malicious,
and harmful content and deployment of botnets that compromised thousands of
computers caused substantial consumer injury and was an unfair practice, in
violation of federal law.

The court issued a temporary restraining order to prohibit Pricewert''s
illegal activities and require its upstream Internet providers and data
centers to cease providing services to Pricewert. The order also freezes
Pricewert''s assets. The court will hold a preliminary injunction hearing on
June 15, 2009.

This case was brought with the invaluable assistance of NASA''s Office of
Inspector General, Computer Crime Division; Gary Warner, Director of
Research in Computer Forensics, University of Alabama at Birmingham; The
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; The Shadowserver
Foundation; Symantec Corporation; and The Spamhaus Project.

The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 4-0. The
complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
California, San Jose Division.

*NOTE:* The Commission files a complaint when it has "reason to believe"
that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission
that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding
or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be
decided by the court.

By the U.S. Federal Trade Commission
 *   Subscribe to Internet Law
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