A James Madison University student is facing 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to developing and selling keylogger malware to steal passwords and banking information.
Zachary Shames, 21, of Great Falls pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Alexandria, VA, to charges of “aiding and abetting computer intrusions” by building the keylogger software and selling it to more than 3,000 users.
That software ended up affecting more than 16,000 computers, said Dana J. Boente, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia.
U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the plea.
Shames is a junior at James Madison University, where he is pursuing a degree in computer science, and he is a graduate of Langley High School in Fairfax County.
Shames “developed initial versions of his keylogger while attending high school in Northern Virginia, and continued to modify and market the illegal product from his college dorm room,” Boente said.
In an online résumé, Shames said he received a programmer of the year award from his high school principal in 2013.
On his website, Shames listed two internships at companies in Northern Virginia where he worked during the past three summers as a software engineer intern and a technical intern.
Shames, who faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, will undergo sentencing June 16.