June 5, 2009

Malicious Site Closed Down By the Federal Government

The federal government has cut off the Internet connection of a company charged with aiding criminals in posting a "witches' brew" of horrid subject matter online, like computer viruses and child pornography.

The US Federal Trade Commission requested that Pricewert LLC's net links be disconnected after it reviewed the evidence of the firm's 'criminal' doings.

Pricewert, owner of the "Triple Fiber Network" or "3FN," was not the kind of service that advertised on popular sites. Instead, the service popped up "in the darkest corners of the Internet" and was aimed at criminals who want to upload malevolent sites, but require servers and bandwidth, states the complaint.

The FTC says in the complaint that Pricewert was paid to upload "child pornography, botnet command and control servers, spyware, viruses, trojans, phishing-related sites, illegal online pharmacies, investment and other web-based scams".

Companies that aid in creating hazardous Web sites are normally made to go offline from the FBI or computer security researchers, but they do not have an official government order.

This is what makes Thursday's announcement unusual and eventful.

In a statement, the FTC did note that the complaint was "not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law."

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said the agency was "so clear this was a rogue (Internet service provider)" that the agency has created a strong case to fight the company.

"This is very, very important because rather than go after the individual spammers, in one action we can shut down a host of bad actors," Leibowitz said in an interview. "There's always a whack-a-mole problem in cases like this, but at the very least we've put a meaningful wrench in their gears."

The evidence that piled up against Pricewert was collected with the assistance of NASA's computer crime group, Symantec, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and others like Spamhaus and the Shadowserver Foundation.

Thus far, the FTC has not identified the individual behind Pricewert. Even though its servers are located in the US, the business is registered in Belize and quite a few of its employees are rumored to be in Eastern Europe.

In a statement to online site Network World, a spokesman for Pricewert found the steps taken to be "unfair" and will fight the charges.


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