FTC Permanently Shutters Rogue ISP

SAN JOSE, Calif.—At the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Judge Ronald Whyte of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose has ordered the permanent closure of 3FN, a rogue internet service provider owned by Pricewert LLC, also doing business as Triple Fiber Network, APS Telecom, APX Telecom, APS Communications and APS Communication.

In addition, according to an FTC press release issued Wednesday, “The ISP’s computer servers and other assets have been seized and will be sold by a court-appointed receiver, and the operation has been ordered to turn over $1.08 million in ill-gotten gains to the FTC.”

The FTC issued a complaint against Pricewert in June 2009 that alleged the company “actively recruited and colluded with criminals to distribute harmful electronic content including spyware, viruses, trojan horses, phishing schemes, botnet command-and-control servers, and pornography featuring children, violence, bestiality, and incest. The FTC alleged that the defendant advertised its services in the darkest corners of the Internet, including a chat room for spammers.”

The complaint further alleged that “3FN actively shielded its criminal clientele by either ignoring take-down requests issued by the online security community, or shifting its criminal elements to other Internet protocol addresses it controlled to evade detection.”

The main method of attack by 3FN was through the use of malicious botnets, according to the FTC. “The defendant recruited bot herders and hosted the command-and-control servers—the computers that relay commands from the bot herders to the compromised computers known as ‘zombie drones,” the FTC claimed.

Whtye issued a preliminary injunction on June 15, 2009, prohibiting 3FN’s illegal activities and requiring its upstream internet providers and data centers to stop providing services to 3FN. His order permanently ending the ISP’s illegal activities and appointing a receiver to liquidate the operation’s assets was issued April 8, and made public by the FTC Wednesday.