Authorities from 19 countries teamed up over the past two days to takedown nearly 100 alleged hackers. These supposed hackers were reportedly creating, selling, and using what the FBI calls a “particularly insidious” computer malware known as BlackShades.
During the period of the operation, officials’ searched 359 houses and seized in excess of 1,100 data storage devices, including computers, laptops, cell phones, routers, external hard drives, and USB memory sticks. Law enforcement officials also seized “substantial quantities” of money, illegal firearms, and drugs, based on the European Union’s law enforcement agency Europol.
BlackShades is a Remote Access Tool, or RAT which allows users to remotely control a victim’s computer. After a hacker installs BlackShades onto a victim’s computer, they are able to see everything on the computer, including documents, photographs, passwords, banking credentials, and much more. They are able to deny access to files, record victims’ keystrokes, and activate the computer’s webcam.
One situation of BlackShades use documented by Europol involved an 18-year-old man in the Netherlands who allegedly infected roughly 2,000 computers to take photos of women and girls who had been using the machines.
In america, the FBI unsealed an indictment on Monday against two men it’s saying produced BlackShades — Swedish national Alex Yucel and US citizen Michael Hogue. The agency in addition has charged and arrested three other men that it says either sold BlackShades or used it on unsuspecting people’s computers. The FBI said the malware produced sales in excess of $350,000 between September 2010 and April 2014.
Countries involved in the BlackShades takedown operation included the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, UK, Finland, Austria, Estonia, Denmark, US, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Italy, Moldova, and Switzerland.