A bloke has been jailed for nearly three years for developing and selling malware that allowed miscreants to snoop on and remote-control victims' Windows PCs.
Taylor Huddleston, of Arkansas, USA, pleaded guilty in July 2017 to one charge of aiding and abetting computer intrusions by building and peddling his $25 software nasty. In addition to the 33-month sentence handed down on Friday, he will also get two years of supervised release. He had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison.
The case is as a rare example of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) charging someone not for actively using malware to compromise and control victims' computers, but developing and selling it to others. Huddleston admitted he created his software knowing it would be used by others to break the law.
The 27-year-old, a resident of Hot Springs, coded and sold the NanoCore remote-access trojan (RAT) from January 2014 to February 2016.
The spyware, once installed a mark's machine, was able to harvest information such as passwords and emails as well as activate and control connected webcams. NanoCore also supported third-party plugins that allowed the RAT to lock infected PCs and hold them to ransom, or use them to launch denial-of-service attacks on websites and similar services.
"By developing NanoCore and distributing it to hundreds of people, some of whom he knew intended to use it for malicious purposes, Huddleston knowingly and intentionally aided and abetted thousands of unlawful computer intrusions and attempted unlawful computer intrusions," US government prosecutors said in the statement of facts Huddleston would sign in his plea deal.
He said he sold ownership of NanoCore to a third-party in 2016.
Huddleston also fessed up to creating Net Seal, a copy-protection and licensing tool that was used by other malware writers to distribute their creations from 2012 through October 2016 while thwarting pirates. One of Net Seal's customers was Zachary Shames, the Virginia college student who created and sold thousands of copies of keylogger software out of his dorm room. Huddleston said Shames paid $7.40 (via PayPal) for his copy Net Seal. ®