97 arrested over BlackShades malware

Major worldwide anti-criminal operation

BlackShades

97 people were arrested during raids on 359 houses in a global operation to catch cyber criminals who created, sold and used the infamous BlackShades malware.

The investigation was co-ordinated by Eurojust, with the help of Europol's European Cybercrime Centre and the FBI.

The arrests were made in the UK, US, Belgium, France, Germany, Finland, Austria, Estonia, Denmark, Italy, Croatia, Canada, Chile, Switzerland, and Moldova.

1,100 devices, including computers, mobile phones, external hard drives, USB memory sticks, and routers, were seized during the operation, in addition to the BlackShades web domain. Money, drugs and illegal firearms were also confiscated.

The blackest shade

BlackShades RAT, the primary malware of the BlackShades family, is a sophisticated piece of malicious software that can give hackers complete control of a user's computer.

The malware has been used to access documents, record keystrokes, conduct DDoS attacks, and even activate and record footage from the user's webcam.

A recent case in the Netherlands involved an 18-year-old man hijacking the webcams of women and girls, with as many as 2,000 computers infected.

BlackShades has also been used as ransomware, where hackers would encrypt files and demand money from users to regain access to them.

Cross-border co-operation

"Operation BlackShades is a fine example of cross-border judicial cooperation in practice. The Internet is not a safe environment for criminals," said Lodewijk van Zwieten, Prosecutor of the Dutch Public Prosecutor's Office, and Koen Hermans, Assistant to the National Member for the Netherlands.

"This case, involving so many Member States and third States, with the common goal of stopping further cyber-attacks, shows the potential of worldwide joint actions and points the way to future common efforts. We are very pleased with the outcome."

Via PC World