Europe wide crackdown on PC hijackers, five arrested in United Kingdom
A few days ago, we published an article about a website that was hosting webcams that were left unsecured. The website claimed that this was possible because admins tend to shirk off the work of changing the default passwords once the camera has been installed. Looks like law enforcement thought differently.
Arrests across Europe
The article we published stalked about webcams being easily accessible. But it turns out, these incidents might have actually been hacking episodes in which Remote Access Trojans (RATs) were used to hack into the system. The webcams being streamed are all privately owned, and are being broadcast live over the internet without the owners’ knowledge. Reports yesterday indicate that arrests have been made in connection with similar occurrences throughout the UK and Europe. The NCA said on Friday that it has arrested two 33-year-old men and a 30-year-old woman from Leeds, along with a 20 year-old man from Chatham in Kent and a 40-year-old from Darlington in Yorkshire. A further 11 individuals were apprehended across different countries in Europe including Estonia, France, Romania, Latvia, Italy, and Norway. These arrests are part of a major global crackdown against the use of RATs.
Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “The illegal use of RATs is a significant cyber threat, demanding this kind of strong, coordinated response from international to local UK level. “Suspected users of RATs are continuing to find that, despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and arrested by the NCA and its partners. “This operation demonstrates once again that all of UK law enforcement is working to respond effectively to cyber crime, and together we will continue to target those who use technology to misuse other people’s devices, steal their money, or unlawfully access confidential information. “Anyone who is tempted to get involved in this type of crime should understand that it can result in prison time and substantial restrictions on your life afterwards.”
Ratting – reports suggest – has become very common in recent times. Users are generally tricked into installing a trojan onto their machines by clicking onto a link or downloading an executable file. Once the file has executed, the trojan gets downloaded and installed onto the user’s machine. The attacker of the trojan can now monitor every aspect of your activity on your PC. The most dangerous part of trojans is that the attacker can get all your information, including credit card details, account credentials and social security numbers and the affected individual may never realise this.
In a statement the NCA explained how a victim’s computer is accessed, stating: “Victims are typically infected by being convinced to click on a link purporting to be a picture of video, or disguised as a legitimate file, but is instead an installer for the Rat. In many cases, those who unwittingly install such trojans will have no indication that their machine is infected.”
ChildNet International and Ceop has some handy tips to keep your webcam protected, which we’ve listed below:
- Webcams can be affected by viruses, so be wary of emails and social network messages from strangers
- Make sure anti-virus and firewall protection is kept up to date
- Avoid putting webcams in bedrooms or other private areas
- Unplug the webcam, cover the lens or point it at a blank wall when it is not in use
- Be sure you can trust the person you are chatting to and remember webcam footage can be recorded and potentially shared online
- If you have been the victim of inappropriate sexual contact via webcam tell a trusted adult and report it to the police via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (Ceop)
Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit said, “The illegal use of Remote Access Trojans is a significant cybercrime threat, demanding this kind of strong, co-ordinated response from international to local UK level. “Suspected users of Rats are continuing to find that despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and arrested by the NCA and its partners.”