A Los Angeles man was sentenced late Wednesday in federal court to four years in prison after pleading guilty last year to infecting as many as 250,000 computers and stealing thousands of peoples’ identities and hijacking their bank accounts.
The Los Angeles authorities said John Schiefer, 27, was the nation’s first defendant to plead guilty to wiretapping charges (.pdf) in connection to using botnets.
Schiefer, who went by the online handle “acidstorm,” faced as many as 60 years in prison and acknowledged using a botnet to remotely control computers across the United States. Once in control of the computers, the authorities said, (.pdf) his spybot malware allowed him to intercept computer communications. He mined usernames and passwords on accounts such as PayPal and made purchases totaling thousands of dollars without consent.
The authorities said he worked by day as an information security consultant with 3G Communications. After his guilty plea, Schiefer was hired at Mahalo, the so-called “human powered search engine.” Its founder, Jason Calacanis wrote that the company failed to realize that the Los Angeles company had hired a man who had pleaded guilty to being a hacker.
Calacanis point out that Mahalo users’ data was not breached by Schiefer.