Brazilian bot herder to be extradited to U.S.

A federal grand jury in New Orleans has indicted a Brazilian man on charges he operated a botnet that was used to deliver spam.

Leni de Abreu Neto, 35, was charged with one count of conspiracy to cause damage to computers, according to a U.S. Department of Justice statement.

The indictment alleges that more than 100,000 computers worldwide were compromised. If convicted, Neto faces up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

He was indicted in New Orleans because some of the illegal acts took place there, a DOJ spokeswoman told on Friday, declining to discuss specifics.

According to the indictment, Neto and Nordin Nasiri, 19, of the Netherlands conspired to use, maintain, lease and sell an illegal botnet. The indictment also stated that Nasiri was responsible for creating the botnet and that Neto used the botnet and paid for the servers on which the botnet was hosted.

Between May and July 2008, Neto agreed with Nasiri to broker a deal to lease the botnet to a third party with expectations that the botnet would be used to send spam through the infected computers.

Neto and Nasiri eventually were apprehended by Dutch authorities.

Neto is in Dutch custody, waiting to be extradited to the United States.

While this arrest certainly won't end spam, Mike Paquette, chief strategy officer of Top Layer Networks, a network security company, told that he thinks this could represent a turning point.

“It's never really been known who owns, manages, or creates botnets,” he said, “and to see an indictment of an individual for the operation of a botnet is a change. It may indicate that authorities are now trying to do something to stop them.”

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