BlackShades malware distributors targeted in global arrests

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European officials have arrested 97 people, including 17 Brits, connected with the distribution of malware program BlackShades.

A two-day operation conducted by Eurojust, with help from the FBI, the European Cybercrime Centre and the UK's National Crime Agency, resulted in arrests in 16 countries around the globe

Computers, laptops, mobile devices, routers, firearms and drugs were seized in raids across Europe and the US.

The BlackShades malware, specifically its remote access tool (RAT), is at the centre of the arrests. The RAT allows an attacker to remotely control another person's computer, as well as record keystrokes and command the host PC to carry out DDoS attacks.

The RAT can also lock and encrypt files on a user's computer, freeing them only after the victim has paid a ransom to a specified bank account. The software can be purchased for less than 100, and, unless installed on another user's computer, is not actually illegal.

The investigation targeted developers and prolific users of the malware, and believes that UK users alone have extracted over 200,000 usernames and passwords from victims around the globe.

One 18-year old man infected at least 2,000 computers in order to control their webcams, before taking photos of the women and girls using them.

"Criminals throughout the UK and across the world are finding out that committing crimes remotely offers no protection from arrest," said Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit.

"The unique scale of this cyber operation shows what can happen when law enforcement agencies at local, national and international level work together to tackle the perpetrators and help keep people safe," he added.