Shut-down of ISP silences botnets and zombie drones


Internet service provider 3FN has been ordered out of business by a district court on advice and request of the Federal Trade Commission. It is accused of a variety of illegal activities. It’s been ordered to turn over all assets for resale by a court-appointed receiver, and to pay $1.08M in ill-gotten gains.

According to the FCC, 3FN “…actively recruited and colluded with criminals to distribute harmful electronic content including spyware, viruses, trojan horses, phishing schemes, botnet command-and-control servers, and pornography featuring children, violence, bestiality, and incest. The FTC alleged that the defendant advertised its services in the darkest corners of the Internet, including a chat room for spammers.”

Describing the “botnets,” FTC said they were “…large networks of computers that have been compromised and enslaved by the originator of the botnet, known as a ‘bot herder.’ Botnets can be used for a variety of illicit purposes, including sending spam and launching denial-of- service attacks. According to the FTC, the defendant recruited bot herders and hosted the command-and-control servers – the computers that relay commands from the bot herders to the compromised computers known as ‘zombie drones.’” FTC alleged 3FN was running more than 4.5K “malicious software programs” over such servers.

Defendants named in the case included Pricewert LLC, also doing business as, Triple Fiber Network, APS Telecom, APX Telecom, APS Communications, and APS Communication.

Participants in shutting the company down, per the FTC, included NASA’s Office of Inspector General, Computer Crime Division; Gary Warner, Director of Research in Computer Forensics, University of Alabama at Birmingham; The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; The Shadowserver Foundation; Symantec Corporation; and The Spamhaus Project.