FBI Cracks Down Creepware Hackers

Published On May 19, 2014 | By Tom Huskerson | News and Analysis

ID-100186945The FBI and police all over the world launched a crackdown on hackers using the malware known as Blackshades. It’s also known as creepware describing the people who use it to spy on victims by hijacking their computers, especially their webcams. According to CNN more that half a million people all over the world have been victimized.

The FBI and police in 19 countries arrested more than 90 people and carried out 300 searches to fight back against a serious and growing problem.  The two year operation was coordinated so suspects didn’t have time to destroy evidence. Among those arrested was Swedish hacker  Alex Yucel who is said to be the co-creator of Blackshades. Yucel was apprehended in Moldova.

Blackshare is a remote administration tool or RAT. Meaning it can operate infected computers from anywhere in the world. It sells for as little as $40. It is used to hijack computers remotely and turn on computer webcams, access hard drives and capture keystrokes to steal passwords without the victim ever knowing it. The real danger of the malware is its ease of use.  It was marketed in hacker circles as off-the-shelf,easy-to-use software. According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, “For just $40, the BlackShades RAT enabled anyone anywhere in the world to instantly become a dangerous cyber criminal, able to steal your property and invade your privacy.”

The crackdown did not go unnoticed in the hacker community. According to police once the crackdown began hacker message boards lit up with activity as they realized that arrests were being made.

One of the most famous victims of Blackshades was Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf. Wolf’s computer was hacked and nude images of her taken with0ut her knowledge. The creep then emailed her the images. He threatened to release them on the Internet if she did not comply with his wishes for more sexually explicit images including a Skype sex show. “I felt completely violated,” Wolf said in an interview. “I felt scared because I didn’t know if this person was a physical threat. My whole sense of security and trust was gone.”

The creep who was threatening her turned out to be a former classmate, Jared Abrahams. Abrahams had installed the Blackshades malware on Wolf’s laptop. In March, the 20-year-old computer science student was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to extortion and unauthorized access of a computer.

Blackshades, like most malware,  finds it way into computers through user failure to protect themselves. Users don’t use updated anti-virus software.  Many computer users click on links in email messages and  social media sites such as Facebook. This causes a near instant download of the malware and the victims don’t even know it has happened.

Breaking It Down

Yeah black folks it can happen to you. You don’t have to do anything. It might be your kids or a friend who uses your computer that downloads the malware. It doesn’t matter how you get it just know that it may be there. I wrote about it before; Treat your Internet Connection Like Your Home 1,2&3. I am a strong advocate of deleting any email with a link or attachment I am not expecting. That’s how malware gets inside your computer. If I get an email with links or attachments I call the person who sent it and ask; a) Did they send it? b) What is it? and c) Where did they get it from?  Black people love to send prayers and images of kittens or puppies or some pro African-American news as a link or attachment. Please don’t fall for that and don’t pass it on to anyone. The least that could happen is your email address ends up on a Spam list.

Another thing you need to understand is that this stuff is extremely easy to use. People who download this hacker software and begin using it are known as script kiddies. That’s a common name for amateur and novice hackers. So if you think it takes a pro to do this you’d be wrong.

This malware takes control of your computer and can take still or video images of you or your family members. To prevent this use a small piece of tape or Post-It note to cover your webcam when you are not using it.  Another thing I suggest is that you do a scan of your computer to detect malware. You can get a free scan from Microsoft, TrendMicro or Kaspersky Labs.

 

 

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About The Author

Tom Huskerson Bio Born in Richmond Virginia Tom Huskerson is a military veteran who settled in California after his discharge. He attended Santa Barbara City College where he began his writing career as a campus reporter. He worked as an intern news reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press writing feature stories before moving on to San Francisco. At San Francisco State University Tom studied broadcast communications and began to focus on the Internet. He completed his graduate thesis on Internet advertising. Tom was the first student to ever focus on the Internet as a graduate student at San Francisco State University. After graduation he went to work for Zona Research in California’s Silicone Valley. As a research associate Tom supported senior analyst writing on the latest developments in the Internet industry. During the dot com boom Tom worked for several web businesses as a market researcher and analyst. As a writer and researcher Tom has authored various technical works including a training program for Charles Schwab security. Other projects included professional presentations on workplace violence and hiring security contractors. Tom has returned to focus on writing both fiction and non-fiction works and blogging for a travel website. He has published two books of short stories and completed two novels. Tom is the owner of Scribe of Life Literature and EbonyCandle. Most recently Tom has launched the blog African American Cyber Report. The blog is the result of his desire to inform the African American community of the dangers and benefits of the cyber age. In his blog Tom reports on information security, new and analysis, scams and hoaxes, legal happenings and various topics that arise from the age of information. Tom believes that technology is a necessary tool for black people and they should know what is happening. Tom writes believing that techno speak is for the professional and that valuable information can be communicated using plain language. As a result he has embraced the motto, Less Tech, More Knowledge.

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