Crime-supporting ISP shut down

Internet crime

An ISP that distributed malicious content has been permanently shut down by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The 3FN service, which operated under numerous aliases such as APX Telecom and APS Communications, sent out spam, spyware and child pornography, along with other illegal content.

The operation has been ordered to pay $1.08 million (750,000) in illicitly-gained funds to the FTC. Computer servers and other assets owned by the ISP have now been seized and will be sold off.

According to the commission, 3FN advertised its work in "the darkest corners of the internet, including a chat room for spammers".

Back in 2009, the FTC had alleged that 3FN had been cooperating with criminals in distributing a variety of harmful content such as trojans and viruses.

The body claimed the ISP ran botnets as well, hosting the command-and-control servers and recruiting bot herders who initiated the botnets. Instant messages filed with the district court had shown the defendants' senior workers talking about the configuration of botnets with these herders, the FTC said.

More than 4,500 pieces of malware capable of stealing passwords and other data were also run by command-and-control servers hosted by 3FN, according to the consumer-protection body.

The FTC also said 3FN was able to hide its criminal operations either by disregarding take-down requests from the online security community or moving its illegal work to other internet addresses that the ISP controlled.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.