Botnet hunter pleads guilty

Pleads guilty to accessing a computer system with the intention of dishonestly obtaining payment for the installation of adware.

Owen Walker, the 18-year-old New Zealander also known as Akill, has pleaded guilty to all charges he was facing under the NZ Crimes Act for his part in attacking the University of Pennsylvania's computer system and in a global adware scheme.

Walker pleaded guilty in the Thames District Court on Tuesday to accessing a computer system with the intention of dishonestly obtaining payment for the installation of adware, accessing a computer system without authorization, and several other charges related to his role in the attacks.

He will be sentenced on May 28, and a pre-sentencing report will be prepared between now and then.

The pre-sentence report would cover home detention, community detention and community work, said Judge Arthur Tompkins.

The only victim loss that the police can quantify is the cost incurred by the University of Pennsylvania. The denial of service attack cost the university around US$13,000 to mitigate, according to the police summary of facts.

Walker allegedly launched the DoS attack in collaboration with a second offender, Ryan Goldstein, a student at the university. Walker has admitted his association with Goldstein and to gaining access to the university's servers through him. Walker told police that he used the university's server to update his botnet, and that the DoS attack was unintended.

Goldstein pleaded guilty to the charges last month in a U.S. court.

If reparation is ordered, Walker's share would be around NZ$8,000 (US$6284.80) said the summary.

Judge Tompkins made no mention of a potential jail sentence.

Walker received almost NZ$40,000 in total from adware companies for installing adware using his botnet, according to the police documents. He used the money to buy computer equipment and he also made investments in a business run by his parents. His mother and stepfather knew he was making money out of doing online work but they did not realize he was engaged in illegal activity, says the summary.

Walker, hiding behind sunglasses and with the hood of his black jacket pulled up, left the Thames District Court together with his mother and his lawyer.

He was caught during an international investigation, Operation Bot Roast, during which his home was raided in November by New Zealand police and an FBI agent.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ulrika Hedquist

Computerworld New Zealand
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?