Feds shut down 'rogue' Internet provider

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A "rogue" ISP that recruited and hosted known distributors of child pornography, spam and phishing attacks was ordered shut down by a judge at the request of the Federal Trade Commission. In its 35-page memorandum supporting the request for a restraining order, FTC lawyers noted a criminal probe also is underway.

Pricewert LLC, also known by names including 3FN and APS Telecom, actively sought criminals to use its services. "The defendant advertised its services in the darkest corners of the Internet, including a forum established to facilitate communication between criminals," the FTC said. The company, which has data centers in the U.S., appears to be based in Belize.
Federal officials said Pricewert was a full-service partner in crime, shielding its users from security requests and shifting them to different addresses it controlled to protect them. Very little of the content hosted on Pricewert was legitimate, the FTC said in its complaint.

The FTC said the company's servers contained more than 4,500 malicious software "programs capable of keystroke logging, password stealing, and data stealing, programs with hidden backdoor remote control activity, and programs involved in spam distribution."

A U.S. District Court judge in California granted the FTC's request for a temporary restraining order that both shuts down the service and freezes the company's assets. A hearing is scheduled for June 15.

The FTC credited the following with aiding in the investigation: 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.

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