In May, Christopher Maxwell, 21, of Vacaville, Calif. had pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer and conspiracy to commit computer fraud. Maxwell and two unnamed juvenile co-conspirators had been accused of hijacking PCs for a large botnet, then installing money-making adware on the victimized computers. According to prosecutors, Maxwell and the others made more then $100,000 from the illegally-installed adware.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman also sentenced Maxwell to three years of supervised release after his prison term is completed, and ordered that he pay $250,000 in restitution. The jail time, said Pechman, would serve as a "deterrence for all those youth out there who are squirreled away in their basements hacking."
At the sentencing, three witnesses testified that Maxwell's 2004-05 botnet attack damaged computers at a Seattle hospital, a California school district, and the Department of Defense.
Maxwell was the second American botnet controller, or "bot herder," to be sentenced. In May, another California man, 20-year-old Jeanson James Ancheta of Downey was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for hijacking more than 400,000 computers. Ancheta was also accused of making most of his ill-gotten gains by installing adware on infected computers.