California man pleads guilty to hacking conspiracy charge in New York malware case

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A California man has pleaded guilty in New York City for his role marketing malware that federal authorities say infected more than a half-million computers worldwide.

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Brendan Johnston entered his plea to a charge of conspiracy to commit computer hacking before a Manhattan federal judge on Friday.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (buh-RAH'-ruh) says the 24-year-old Thousand Oaks, California, resident helped market and sell a remote access tool for the BlackShades malware. He says Johnston also provided technical assistance.

Johnston's attorney says he helped customers for less than a year and has accepted responsibility for his involvement.

Authorities say the computer program allowed cybercriminals to remotely access people's computers and webcams.

Investigators in Europe and the U.S. announced earlier this year the arrests of 97 people suspected of using BlackShades.