We've brought you news of the growing botnet threat with an article in our Spyware Education Center and updates in Lavasoft News. This weekend brought a new botnet-related news story making the headlines.

A California, U.S. man has admitted to infecting a quarter of a million computers with malware and spyware, allowing attackers to control the machines remotely in order to steal the personal details of thousands of people.

Should the "good guys" be able to use spyware? Similar questions have been raised about police hacking. The methods that law enforcement officials are allowed to use to investigate crimes vary (as does public opinion, reports say) depending on what part of the world you are in.

In the United States, the FBI recently used a secret surveillance program, a computer and internet protocol address verifier, to catch an alleged teen bomb threat suspect.

While many countries worldwide have been trying to get to the bottom of phishing scams and identity theft attempts, Italy has just made progress with an operation dubbed "Phish and Chip."

Not too long after its announcement of progress with "Operation Bot Roast", the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has promised more steps forward in prosecutions for spam and botnet related activities in the coming months.

The U.S. FBI has released news that its "Operation Bot Roast" has identified over one million victim computer IP addresses being used in criminal activity. The arrest of three men accused of using the army of hijacked computers for spam related crime was also announced.

A Connecticut, USA judge has granted a new trial for the so-called "Spyware Teacher" Julie Amero, who was facing up to 40 years behind bars after being convicted of exposing students to pornography on a classroom computer.

According to reports, the computer that had been the subject of debate in the trial was sent to a state laboratory following the trial, and those findings may contradict the testimony that had been presented by a state computer expert.

Spam update:

Robert Soloway, considered "one of the most persistent professional spammers" by Spamhaus, has been arrested following an indictment by a grand jury in Washington, USA on charges of mail fraud, identity theft, fraud and money laundering.

If convicted, Soloway faces fines of over $772,000 U.S. and could potentially face up to 65 years in prison.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Internet Spyware Prevention Act, which you may know as I-Spy, a bill that aims to create a federal law to take on spyware. I-Spy calls for:

  • making it a criminal offense for an individual to place unauthorized code on a computer and use it to obtain or transmit personal information or to impair the security protections on the system.
  • fines and prisons terms of up to five years for those responsible for such acts.

Sentencing in the so-called 'Spyware Teacher' case has been delayed - for the third time.

40-year-old Julie Amero was to be sentenced in a Connecticut court today (April 26). The case will now be heard May 18.

This time around it was the Assistant State Attorney who prosecuted the case asking for a continuance. David J. Smith wrote, "The state has not completed a full examination of all the issues which may affect its position at the sentencing hearing".

The U.S. Congress has been trying for years to pass uniform legislation to curb spyware and adware.

Now, identity theft concerns are also being pushed forward, with a federally convened task force urging Congress to look towards a new national strategy for punishing identity fraud.

To all of us who have been the victims of spyware, it's blaringly clear that more needs to be done to penalize spyware distributors. Many in the security industry have called for consensus anti-spyware legislation in order to fully hold distributors accountable for their actions, and to deter spyware vendors from violating consumers' privacy.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives vowed yesterday to push forward the Spy Act, a bill that aims to impose extensive regulations on what types of action software may perform.

Cnet has the full scoop.


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