Russian national Oleg Nikolaenko, the man charged with orchestrating a global spam network of more than half a million virus-infected 'zombie-like' PCs, has pleaded not guilty in a federal court in Wisconsin, USA. Nikolaenko - dubbed the 'King of Spam' - is accused of running one of the world's biggest email spam networks which experts believe was, at one time, responsible for sending up to ten billion infected emails per day.
If proven guilty, Nikolaenko will be found to have violated the US anti-spam law – the CAN-SPAM 2003 Act – by sending a minimum of 2,500 spam emails per day and hiding malicious content in the subject headlines of what appeared to be commercial emails. Originally under house arrest before his trial, prosecutor Erica O'Neil has since ordered Nikolaenko to be held without bail as he was deemed to be a flight risk if he attempts to return to Russia.
According to CNN, US authorities discovered Nikolaenko after arresting a company selling fake watches who reportedly paid in the region of $2 million to spammers – such as Nikolaenko – to advertise their goods.
Mega-D BotnetAccused of running a sophisticated network called 'Mega-D Botnet', Nikolaenko used other people's computers to send out emails; many of which attempted to sell fake goods, herbal supplements and prescription drugs. US-Based Internet threat protection company M86 Security has monitored Nikolaenko's activity for some time and now believe as little as 5% of the world's malicious emails and unsolicited spam originates from the Mega-D Botnet network; a fall of over 25% since earlier this year.
If found guilty, Nikolaenko could face up to five years in a US prison followed by deportation to Russia.