FTC shuts allegedly rogue Internet provider

June 5, 2009 By JORDAN ROBERTSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- The federal government has severed the Internet connection of a company accused of helping criminals serve up a "witches' brew" of nasty content online, from computer viruses to child pornography.

It's likely to be just a short-lived victory in the fight against cybercrime, though, since bad guys are very good at getting back online quickly.

The said Thursday that it has ordered the shutdown of a company called Pricewert LLC, described in a complaint filed in San Jose, Calif., federal court as an Oregon-based shell company run by "overseas criminals", operating out of Belize and running many its illegal operations out of servers in .

Pricewert, which operated the "Triple Fiber Network" or "3FN," wasn't the type of Internet service that average consumers would see or sign up for. Instead, the service was advertised "in the darkest corners of the Internet" and was targeted at criminals who want to put malicious Web sites online, but need the servers and bandwidth to do it, according to the complaint.

Technicians working for 3FN even helped criminals maintain the armies of personal computers that they had infected with viruses, according to the complaint. Those armies are known as "botnets," and they require some sophistication to manage.

The FTC says the case marks the first time the agency has ordered the shuttering of an Internet provider. The agency has usually focused on taking out harmful Web sites individually. Companies that host malicious Web sites are usually forced offline under pressure from the FBI or computer security researchers, but without a formal government order - which is what makes Thursday's announcement significant.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said the agency decided to move on 3FN after getting information about the company's behavior that made it "so clear this was a rogue ()" that the agency had a strong case against it.

"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 FTC's complaint draws a link between 3FN and a notorious Internet provider called McColo Corp., which was also operating out of a data center in Silicon Valley.

McColo was believed responsible for half of the world's spam before it was shut down in November. Spam dropped precipitously after McColo's Internet providers pulled the plug on McColo, but it has since rebounded.

When investigators from NASA looked into intrusions into some of its computers, they traced them back to McColo's servers. A search warrant later revealed those servers were also routing instant message conversations between 3FN employees and customers that formed the basis of some of the FTC's allegations.

A man who picked up the phone at one of 3FN's offices Thursday night said the company wasn't commenting and hung up.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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deatopmg
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 05, 2009
is this for real? or are we in the PRC ? no way to tell. When I see NASA, the space arm of the military and other more secretive agencies, is involved then I become very suspicious of where the real truth lies.
wiyosaya
5 / 5 (2) Jun 05, 2009
is this for real? or are we in the PRC ? no way to tell. When I see NASA, the space arm of the military and other more secretive agencies, is involved then I become very suspicious of where the real truth lies.


The article says:
When investigators from NASA looked into intrusions into some of its computers, they traced them back to McColo's servers.

NASA simply traced intrusions into computers it owns on networks it owns. Any entity, government, civilian, business, etc., has the complete right to do this sort of tracing, and it is not that complicated to do it if you have the technical knowledge. There is nothing "black ops" about this. If the people who broke into NASA's computers had not broken into those computers in the first place, then they might have gotten away with what they were doing for a longer period of time. However, what they did was a crime, and they clearly "picked on" the "wrong people."

It is simply not that difficult to have a firewall e-mail you if it shows that traffic has come from somewhere that it should normally not come from - especially on a network that is supposed to be secured, or you could also have that firewall e-mail you if it detects suspicious activity.

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