US man pleads guilty to spreading ITC trojan horse

Sophos is welcoming news that a US man has pleaded guilty to charges of writing and distributing a Trojan horse designed to steal usernames and passwords from computer users.

Richard C Honour, 31, faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 after admitting releasing malware that infected users of DarkMyst, an IRC chatroom popular with players of online role-playing games.

Honour, also known as Fyle/Anatoly, sent messages to other IRC users claiming to contain links to online movies. However, users who clicked on the links were infected with a Trojan horse instead. Honour used the Trojan horse to open a backdoor on infected PCs, spy on his victims, steal banking details and commit identity theft.

The FBI investigated the case following complaints from internet users, and Honour was arrested at his home in Kenmore, Washington. Agents found evidence on Honour’s computer indicating that he had written the malicious code, and stolen information from victims’ computers.

“Criminals like Richard Honour lure the unwary by disguising their Trojan horses as seemingly harmless links to movie files,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “The rise of the Trojan has been one of the key developments in cybercrime in recent years, as hackers increasingly use them to steal information and money from unsuspecting internet users. Everyone should be on their guard against this type of attack – and the authorities should be congratulated for bringing complicated cases such as this to a successful resolution.”

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