FBI Arrests More 'Botherders'

Q Boyer
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation announced this week that more “botherders” — operators of compromised computer networks known as “botnets” — have been arrested as part of an ongoing initiative to disrupt botnets and the criminal enterprises that use them.

The FBI initiative, codenamed “Operation Bot Roast,” has identified more than 1 million IP addresses of computers that have been compromised and drawn into the botnets run by spammers, hackers and other manner of cyber criminals.

“The majority of victims are not even aware that their computer has been compromised or their personal information exploited,” said James Finch, assistant director for the Cyber Division of the FBI. “An attacker gains control by infecting the computer with a virus or other malicious code and the computer continues to operate normally.”

Thus far, the FBI has announced three arrests connected to Operation Bot Roast, including the arrest earlier this month of so-called “Spam King” Robert Alan Soloway in Seattle.

In addition to Soloway, the FBI also has detained James Brewer of Arlington, Texas and Jason Michael Downey of Covington, Ky. Brewer is alleged to have operated a botnet that infected hospitals in the Chicago area, while Downey is alleged to have used botnets to initiate distributed denial of service attacks.

The FBI recommended that consumers take steps to protect their computers from remote exploits, including updating their anti-virus software, installing a firewall, using strong and unobvious passwords and “practicing good email and web security practices.”

Consumers can report fraudulent activity and financial scams to their nearest FBI office or police department, and file complaints online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov