A man who rented out a 72,000-computer botnet to let customers install malicious malware on victims' computers has been sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Joshua Schichtel, 30, of Phoenix, Ariz., was charged with one count of "attempting to cause damage to multiple computers without authorization by the transmission of programs, codes, or commands," the U.S. Department of Justice said.
According to the Justice Department, Schichtel allegedly broke the law in late November 2009 when he accepted $1,500 to infect tens of thousands of computers with malware on behalf of a customer.
He pleaded guilty to the charge in August 2011.
"Individuals who wanted to infect computers with various different types of malicious software would contact Schichtel and pay him to install, or have installed, malware on the computers that comprised those botnets," the Justice Department said in news release.
Despite only the one charge, the Justice Department asserts that Schichtel had multiple customers who rented his botnet out for others to use for a variety of illegal and harmful online activity. A lack of evidence in the other crimes may be preventing the department from filing additional charges.
This isn't the first time Schichtel has been accused of using botnets to make trouble on the Internet. He was also named in a 2004 criminal complaint where he allegedly helped to carry out a distributed denial of service attack against a corporate website. The charges were later dropped.