Botnet hacker's sentencing delayed

The sentencing of computer hacker Owen Thor Walker was due to take place in the Thames District Court today but has been postponed.

Walker has pleaded guilty to charges of accessing a computer for dishonest purpose, damaging or interfering with a computer system, possessing software for committing crime and accessing a computer system without authorisation.

He will now be sentenced in the Hamilton High Court but a date has yet to be set.

Detective Inspector Pete Devoy said the postponement was due to "procedural issues" but police spokesman Andrew McAlley said he did not know what those were.

The 18 year-old Whitianga man was at the centre of an investigation by the FBI, US Secret Service, Dutch authorities and the New Zealand police.

According to police, Walker - known on-line as "Akill" - received just under $40,000 for his part in the attacks, which included a global adware scheme and the collapse of a computer server at the University of Pennsylvania.

International cyber crime investigators considered Walker's to be "amongst the most advanced bot programming" they had encountered, says the prosecution summary.

His bot code contained a number of special features that protected it from discovery, allowing it to spread automatically while identifying and destroying rival bot code.

One feature automatically disabled anti-virus software and prevented the software from being updated.

Walker, also identified on line as "Snow Whyte" and "Snow Walker," set up the command and control of his botnet using computer servers outside New Zealand, mainly in Malaysia. He either leased server space or accessed servers illegally.

Prosecutors say the exact number of computers in which his bot code was installed may never be known, but it was tens of thousands.

- NZPA with NZ HERALD STAFF

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