Security & Fraud

  Botnet Hackers: About To Be Exposed?

Mirai botnet hits routers

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, as the saying goes — but will light shine on the ways, whys and wherefores in botnet hacking?

The Wall Street Journal reports an alleged hacker will soon be in a Brooklyn court, the center of a trial the publication says will offer “a rare look” into hack attacks of scale and note, and explain how computers are co-opted to carry out those attacks. The accused, Fabio Gasperini, hails from Italy, lives in Rome and is allegedly behind the hacks that use servers to commit “click fraud.”

That type of digital fraud takes place when ad companies are the unwitting victims of hackers who get paid for the fake clicks tied to online ads.

IT professional Gasperini, who was arrested in Amsterdam and then extradited to the U.S., faces 70 years in prison tied to five charges ranging from computer intrusion to wire fraud. Gasperini has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

The trial concerns the first click fraud case to be tried in the court system, according to the WSJ,.

Botnet hacks typically allow hackers to take charge of computers and other internet-enabled devices, then manipulate those devices to launch viruses, steal data and create denial of service events. Gasperini, according to prosecutors, used botnet attacks to install malicious scripts that were then used to click on Internet ads. These clicks looked like human activity to online advertisers.

Gasperini registered sites in his own name and had a contract in place with an Italian company to receive money if an ad on his site got a click. The amounts lost by the companies were not disclosed. Testimony — and appearance at the Brooklyn-held trial — may include representation from companies ranging from Nike to Walt Disney, the WSJ noted.

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