John Schieffer stands accused of running a botnet. If you're not a geek, you might not care. At least, not yet.
A botnet is a series of computers that have all been compromised to do things the users aren't intending, or as is often the case, even aware of. Somehow (usually via a trojan contained in an email attachment), a computer gets infected. Then it sends a message back to the person who put the trojan into the wild, giving that person control of the computer.
Besides being able to pull data, like passwords and keystrokes, off of the computer, all the compromised computers can then be used in conjunction to do other things (fake clicks to steal from ad companies, DDOS attacks, etc.)
This is bad.
Now, back to John. He has agreed to plead guilty to four felonies. Accessing protected computers to conduct fraud, disclosing illegally intercepted electronic communications, wire fraud and bank fraud. All of which he did through his botnet.
If he's pleading guilty to four felonies without a trial, I can only imagine what else they've got on him. Or what he's got on other guys like him. When the possibility of 60 years in the can and almost 2 million in fines is the better option, you know he's fucked.
This is the first prosecution of a botherder ( a guy who runs a botnet ) in the nation. There are going to be many more like it. A lot of people are going to go to jail.
Probably a lot of John's friends.