St. Louis, Missouri: A man from Kenmore, Washington has pled guilty to releasing malicious computer viruses, sometimes referred to as malware, that caused harm to systems across the country, including a computer system in the Eastern District of Missouri, United States Attorney Catherine L. Hanaway announced today.
"Computer viruses have the potential to cause an incredible amount of damage to the nation's economy," said Hanaway. “This office will pursue these cases aggressively. Tracking a computer crime can be tedious and difficult. This case is an example of excellent investigative work by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who responded to complaints from the Internet community and followed every lead until the case was resolved."
"The FBI places a high priority on the identification and investigation of computer hackers,” said Zachary Lowe, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI St. Louis Division. “This case illustrated the highly complex nature of crime on the Internet and the investigative methods needed to combat this threat."
Richard C. Honour developed and released harmful computer programs which infected users of Internet Relay Chat ("IRC") systems. One of the IRC systems affected was DarkMyst, which has computers located in St. Louis. Honour's harmful programs, referred to generally as "malware," allowed him to gain unauthorized access to compromised computers. FBI agents based in St. Louis investigated the case, followed the leads and eventually obtained a warrant to search Honour's home. During that search, agents recovered computer equipment. The FBI conducted a forensic examination of that equipment and found evidence of computer malware and records indicating that Honour had obtained information from victims' computers.
One of the ways Honour spread his malware was to send messages to IRC users that invited users to click on a link to a website. Once a user clicked on that link, they were connected to another computer and the malware was downloaded to that user's computer, creating a backdoor access to the computer of which the user was unaware. Users of the DarkMyst system were infected by clicking on a link disguised as a link to a movie. When they clicked on that link, other malware was downloaded. Once the backdoor was discovered, users had to spend time, money and resources to remove the unwanted code.
RICHARD C. HONOUR pled guilty in St. Louis to one felony count of transmitting internet viruses. He appeared before United States District Judge Donald J. Stohr. Honour now faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000 when he is sentenced May 4, 2007.
Hanaway commended the work performed on the case by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Thomas Dukes, trial attorney with the Department of Justice Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section; and Assistant United States Attorney John Bodenhausen, who is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.