Convicted hacker sentenced to three years in jail

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A California man was sentenced to three years in prison last week for hacking into thousands of PCs, including some within the U.S. Department of Defense.

Christopher Maxwell, 21, of Vacaville, was sentenced to three years in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty in May to federal conspiracy charges, according to reports by the Associated Press and other media organizations.

Maxwell and two juvenile co-conspirators had been accused of using botnet attacks to install adware, causing more than $135,000 worth of damage while making more than $100,000 in the process.

In addition to the Pentagon, Maxwell was accused of infecting PCs at Northwest Hospital in Seattle and the Colton Unified School District in California during 2004 and 2005.

Ron O'Brien, senior security analyst for Sophos, said today that Maxwell was a combination of a businessman and a hacker trying to impress others.

"I was a little disappointed because clearly the adware angle would suggest he was an entrepreneur, but the extent that he installed the malware on the hospital computers exceeded good taste," he said.

Click here to email online editor Frank Washkuch Jr.

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