Darkode hacker accused of spreading Facebook malware pleads guilty

On Monday, the facilitator of online hacks through Darkode pleaded guilty for compromising the security of at least 77,000 computers.

The 39-year old Eric Crocker is one of the 12 individuals who were charged in July after the dismantling of the international hacking forum Darkode by US authorities and international law enforcement.

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Crocker was a resident of Binghamton, New York and used to assist online break-ins by the online moniker “Phastman.” Crocker pleaded guilty to one charge, which was of violating the CAN-SPAM Act.

The United States’ Attorney Office in Pittsburgh stated that CAN-SPAM Act is a federal law regarding violations of Internet communication.

According to the prosecutors, Crocker used Facebook Spreader, a hacking tool, to penetrate into the computers of Facebook users. It is unclear how the malware was spread, but this example on Reddit shows the malware was developed in such a way that it would automatically execute upon clicking.

Then Crocker along with other Darkode hackers would sell the acquired access to targeted computers to individuals looking to send out commercial messages.

In return, they were paid periodically something between $200 and $300 per 10,000 active computer infections, according to Reuters.

Crocker is due to be sentenced on November 23 and faces the penalty of three years in prison as well as a fine of $250,000.

To get rid of Darkode, the FBI launched an investigation with the US Attorney’s Office in Pittsburg under the name Operation Shrouded Horizon. The investigation involved law enforcement agencies from Europol and other countries located in Latin America, Australia, Europe, Nigeria and Israel.

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The darkode.com domain currently serves this notice on its main page:

Screenshot from darkode

In July, the aforementioned authorities took down Darkode, which was a popular online forum used by hackers and cybercriminals from all over the world. Resultantly, 12 people were charged for having links on that site and assisting online break-ins.

As per David Hickton, US Attorney, Darkode was “a cyber hornet’s nest of criminal hackers.”

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