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Interview with a Botmaster 291

An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post is running a fascinating feature profiling a couple of botnet operators who make thousands of dollars each month installing adware on machines they infect. This is by far the most detailed examination of this issue I've seen so far -- and includes an interview with the CEO of 180Solutions, as well as interviews with some of the botmasters' victims. From the story: 'Most days, I just sit at home and chat online while I make money,' 0x80 says. 'I get one check like every 15 days in the mail for a few hundred bucks, and a buncha others I get from banks in Canada every 30 days.' He says his work earns him an average of $6,800 per month, although he's made as much as $10,000. Not bad money for a high school dropout.'"
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Interview with a Botmaster

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2006 @09:19AM (#14748920)
    There are only around 1500 males resident in the town, [] that's not a large haystack.
  • Re:The irony of it (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2006 @09:26AM (#14748941)
    Like most other high school dropouts, he'll wind up spending most of his days in jail.

    Do you really think most high school drop outs spend most of their time in jail?

    According to the US census, an all-time high 85 percent of US adults age 25 and over had completed at least high school in 2003. Thus, a conservative estimate of the proportion of adults who dropped out of high school is 15%. (More if you include people in the 16-24 range). According to your comment, there should be a minimum of 7.5% of the population in jail.

    The US population is approximately 295,000,000 (US census data)

    According to DOJ, there were just over 2 million prisoners in Federal or State prisons or in local jails.

    According to your comment, instead of 2 million prisoners (less than 1%, there should be nearly 30 million people in jail.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2006 @10:06AM (#14749077)
    The picture is no longer linked from the article, but with the post here the damage has been done.

    At the end of the article he said how he is thinking of quitting the botnet business and joining the Army to get a college education.

    Poor guy, now he'll end up in jail instead of following his dream and getting his ass shot off in Iraq.
  • by assantisz ( 881107 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @11:35AM (#14749427)
    I just verified the location data in those two jpegs. I dragged the picture on my desktop (using Mac OS X) and clicked on 'Get Info'. E voila: Roland, OK. The info is still there.
  • by cyberworm ( 710231 ) <cyberworm@gma i l .com> on Saturday February 18, 2006 @12:35PM (#14749720) Homepage
    in 10.3 and 10.4 Software Update automatically lets me know when and what updates are availible for all Apple software on my machine. If I decline and update of any kind for whatever reason, it lets me know again 12 hours (approx) later, untill I finally update. I wouldn't say your characterization is true of "most versions" of OS X. Can't say for versions or Linux. And why you're grouping OSX and Linux together anyways just seems silly.
  • by ph4s3 ( 634087 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @12:57PM (#14749822)
    Anonymous Coward wrote on Saturday February 18, @08:06AM
    The picture is no longer linked from the article, but with the post here the damage has been done.
    Quite right. The original article no longer links directly to the photo, but thanks to its removal I was motivated to find it and others with the aid of the Washington Post's own search tool.

    Check out the Washington Post's multimedia search results [] for roland, ok. The first three appear to be from this article and all indicate a location of Roland, OK in the search results.

    You can see the pictures themselves
    The metadata on the photos appears to be intact so I have no reason to doubt that the location information in the caption of each photo is accurate as well, although I suppose it could be disinformation or the place the photographer downloaded them or whatever. I had intended to display the metadata (EXIF picture/camera/exposure info + IPTC captions, etc) for each of the files here, but you'll have to go look at it yourselves because I can't quickly find a utility to export all of it to a nice text file. Even the small thumbnail photos still embedded in the story have the caption info showing the location, so just go expolore if you're looking for it.
  • by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <> on Saturday February 18, 2006 @01:37PM (#14750063) Journal
    "And in fact on Linux/MacOS the user has to manually trigger a software update"

    you've never used a mac have you? it is hard not to notice the SECURITY UPDATE icon BOUNCING like crazy on the dock
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @02:15PM (#14750328) Homepage
    The usual places where you rent botnets, Specialham [] and Spamforum [] are down today. When the heat is on, they tend to go offline, but come back in days or weeks.
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @11:35PM (#14752917) Homepage
    He actually has half of his face in one of the pictures, and his mouth in another. If one were so inclined, you could splice together the two images to create something that looks like
    this [].

    Not as great as a mugshot, especially with the slightly different perspectives of the two pictures, but it might do. A little reconstruction by a skilled artist, and you could have a really accurate full-face.

    He must have gone to Roland High School []. Anyone want to give them a call? (918) 427-7419

    I feel bad if this kid really had been planning on getting out, but I've known people who "planned" on getting out for years and never did. And I've been cleaning spyware crap off of people's computers for years.

The other line moves faster.