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Teen ‘botnet boss’ charged in New Zealand

An alleged teen zombie botnet boss has appeared in a New Zealand court, charged with breaking into computers worldwide.

An alleged teen zombie botnet boss has appeared in a New Zealand court, charged with breaking into computers worldwide.

Owen Thorn Walker, an 18-year-old computer programmer, has been charged with two counts of accessing a computer for dishonest purposes, damaging a computer system, possessing software for committing crimes, and two counts of accessing a computer system without permission.

If found guilty, Walker faces a maximum 10-year jail sentence.

When arrested in November 2007, it was alleged that Walker - known by his online handle "Akill" - was the boss of a gang that had infected 1.3 million computers around the world, stealing banking and credit card information.

"Hackers can use zombie networks of innocent people's computers to send spam, manipulate stock prices, steal identities and attack company websites. These botnets are one of the biggest security problems faced by the internet today, and are a powerful weapon in the hands of an experienced cybercriminal," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at web security firm Sophos.

Walker appeared at Thames Magistrate's Court in northern New Zealand, and was released on bail.

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