Hacker Gets 18 Months in U.K. Prison

A Scottish man was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for spamming out e-mails laced with malware and stealing data.

A 33-year-old Scottish man was sentenced today to 18 months in prison in the U.K. for spamming out malware-infected e-mails and stealing data.

The sentencing today of Matthew Anderson of Drummuir, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, brought to an end to an investigation first launched four years ago. According to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Anderson was part of a ring that targeted hundreds of businesses in the U.K. with malware starting in 2005. The conspiracy was operated by members of a cyber-crew called m00p that spammed out millions of e-mails laced with malware, authorities said.

It was Anderson's job to manage the operation by composing the e-mails and distributing them with virus attachments, police said. The malware allowed Anderson to access private data stored on computers without the knowledge of the computer's owner, according to police.

"This organized online criminal network infected huge numbers of computers around the world, especially targeting U.K. businesses and individuals," said Detective Constable Bob Burls, from the MPS Central e-Crime Unit, in a statement. "Matthew Anderson methodically exploited computer users not only for his own financial gain but also violating their privacy. They used sophisticated computer code to commit their crimes."

The investigation resulted in the arrests of three men-including Anderson-on June 27, 2006. No charges were filed against one of the men, while the other pleaded guilty in 2008, according to reports. According to police, a number of computers were seized at residential addresses in both countries in addition to the suspects' servers as part of the investigation.

When online, Anderson used the profile names of "aobuluz" and "warpigs," authorities said, and operated his illegal business behind the front of an online company called Optom Security that offered security software.

Among the evidence police found were screenshots on Anderson's computers taken from other people's Webcams as well as copies of wills, medial reports, password lists and other content, police said.

"The Internet means criminals have increased opportunities to commit crime internationally; however, I'd like to reassure the public that the international law enforcement and antivirus companies' response is increasingly sophisticated," Burls said. "As this case shows, criminals can't hide online and are being held to account for their actions. A complex investigation like this demonstrates what international cooperation can achieve."