Blackshades RAT malware creator jailed for five years

The creator of the Blackshades RAT malware has been sentenced to five years in prison after thousands of people across the world were affected by his attacks.

Alex Yucel "created, marketed and sold software that was designed to accomplish just one thing: gain control of a computer, and with it, a victim's identity and other important information," Manhattan US attorney Preet Bharara said during sentencing this week.

"This malware victimised thousands of people across the globe and invaded their lives. But Yucel's computer hacking days are now over."

Blackshades allowed Yucel to take complete control of a victim's computer, spying on the person via the webcam installed on their machines.

It also allowed the 'controller' to access information stored on the computer, including pictures, videos and personal details that could be siphoned off and sold online.

"This is another warning shot across the bows of cybercriminals by the FBI," Chris Boyd, malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes, said.

"It is a statement that the organisation is trying to break down international barriers and bring to justice those who think the Internet provides anonymity and co-operation issues for law enforcement. The fact that this is the first time Moldova have extradited anyone to the USA is a marker of this."

Yucel was one of more than 80 people around the world arrested in relation to the malware attacks last year. The National Crime Agency (NCA) played a big part in finding the criminals in a worldwide co-ordinated crackdown.

"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," Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit, said.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.