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updated 5/25/2012 2:19:35 PM ET 2012-05-25T18:19:35

The criminal charged with running the notorious Bredolab botnet will spend the next four years behind bars.

An Armenian court on Tuesday (May 22) sentenced Georg Avanesov, 27, on computer sabotage charges stemming from his creation of the Bredolab virus, which herded an estimated 30 million computers into a "zombie" network of compromised machines over the past three years.

Once infected with the virus, Avanesov's collection of controlled systems siphoned bank account credentials and other sensitive information from infected systems, the security firm  Sophos reported.

Short for "robot networks," botnets  are groups of computers infected with malicious software that puts all the systems under the control of a remote operator, without the legitimate computer user's knowledge. The "bot herder," as the mastermind is called, harnesses the power of the linked zombie computers to make them perform various automated tasks, including sending out huge amounts of spam and malware.

Prosecutors said Avanesov, a Russian citizen of Armenian descent, rented out access to his massive network of compromised machines, a business strategy that netted him about $125,000 per month from cybercriminals looking to spread malware, distribute spam or launch denial-of-service attacks. At its peak in 2009, Avanesov's Bredolab botnet was capable of sending more than 3 billion junk mail messages per day, Sophos said.

Avanesov was arrested in 2010 in Armenia, shortly after Dutch authorities seized and disconnected 143 Bredolab-controlled servers.  Avanesov's sentence marks the first time Armenia has jailed anyone for cybercrime, Kaspersky Lab reported.

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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