Dutch prosecutors ask for jail terms for botnet gang

Dutch prosecutors are pursuing jail terms for two men charged in the largest computer hacking scheme every prosecuted in the Netherlands.

Dutch prosecutors are pursuing jail terms for two men charged in a large-scale computer hacking scheme in which more than 1 million computers may have been infected with adware and other malicious programs.

The case is the biggest cybercrime case prosecuted so far in the Netherlands, said Desiree Leppens, spokeswoman for the organized crime branch of the National Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam.

During a one-day trial that ended Tuesday, prosecutors showed how at least 50,000 computers were infected by the two defendants, who are 20 and 28 years old. Police have not released their names.

The pair used a malicious program called "Toxbot," a worm that can be used to gain remote control of a computer and log keystrokes, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also charge that the defendants threatened an advertising software maker, 180Solutions Inc., now renamed Zango Inc., with a denial-of-service attack after a dispute over payment. Zango settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in November for US$3 million after concern that distributors of its software were installing it on peoples' computers without their consent, often by exploiting vulnerabilities in operating systems or Web browsers.

Prosecutors also allege the pair were involved in phishing schemes, where fraudulent Web sites are constructed to harvest personal information such as bank-account or credit-card details. The two used a Trojan horse called "Wayphisher", which on an infected machine can redirect a Web site request from a legitimate bank site to a phishing site.

Prosecutors want a three-year sentence for the 20 year old and two years for the 28 year old and each to pay Euro 30,000 (US$38,000) to the Dutch government, Leppens said. A judge will return a verdict in the case on Jan. 30.

Four others involved in the ring who are facing lesser charges will go to trial later this year, Leppens said.

The various schemes caused at least Euro 60,000 in losses to victims, through online purchases and other actions, Leppens said.

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