Court rules 3FN must stop trading

Written by Iain Thomson in San Francisco, 05 Jun 2009

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has convinced a court to shut down the operations of an internet service provider (ISP) that it claims has been hosting spamming systems, child pornography and botnets.

The ISP, operating under the names 3FN and APS Telecom under the ownership of Pricewert LLC, is alleged to be working with organised criminal gangs to host the kind of material that legitimate companies would turn down, such as botnets.

"The defendant recruited bot herders and hosted the command-and-control servers that relay commands from the bot herders to the compromised computers known as 'zombie drones'," said the FTC.

Advertisement"Transcripts of instant messaing logs filed with the district court show the defendants' senior employees discussing the configuration of botnets with bot herders."

The ISP is also accused of hosting more than 4,500 command-and-control systems for malware which could then be pushed onto infected machines for phishing, generating spam and organising distributed denial-of-service attacks.

The court issued a temporary restraining order to prohibit Pricewert's activities, and require its upstream ISPs and datacentres to cease providing services to Pricewert. The order also freezes Pricewert's assets.

The case was made possible by a joint effort between the FTC, The Spamhaus Project, Nasa's Office of the Inspector General (Computer Crime Division), Gary Warner, director of research in computer forensics at University of Alabama, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Shadowserver Foundation and Symantec.

Experts will now carefully monitor spam and botnet activity to see the effect of the shutdown. When the McColo operation was shut down last year, spam levels fell dramatically in the hours following the takedown.