updated 12/28/2005 8:55:12 PM ET 2005-12-29T01:55:12

A man pleaded guilty to infecting about 20,000 computers with a worm and using them to launch denial of service attacks against eBay Inc. and other online businesses in 2003.

Anthony Scott Clark, 21, of Beaverton, Ore., entered the plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Jose. He faces 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, three years probation and other penalties, the U.S. attorney's office said Wednesday.

According to court documents, Clark and unidentified accomplices used a worm that exploited a vulnerability in the Windows operating system to gain control of the computers. The "bots" were then directed to an Internet Relay Chat server, where they were given further orders.

Denial of service attacks are designed to overwhelm the target's servers, making it difficult for legitimate users to access sites. In a news release, U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan said the attacks against eBay and other businesses took place in July and August 2003.

"We applaud law enforcement for bringing this man to justice," eBay spokesman Chris Donlay said. "We think this case will send a strong message that we will pursue anyone who tries to do something like this."

Clark's attorney, identified by the court as Vicki Young, did not return a message seeking comment.

U.S. District Judge James Ware has scheduled a hearing on sentencing for April 3.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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