Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

FBI: More than half million computers in over 100 countries infected by BlackShades malware

Exterior view of the Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, May 19, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Mike Corder

Enlarge Image

Exterior view of the Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, May 19, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Mike Corder

NEW YORK, N.Y. - More than a half million computers in more than 100 countries were infected by sophisticated malware that lets cybercriminals take over a computer and hijack its webcam, authorities said as charges were announced Monday against more than 100 people worldwide.

The FBI described its investigation in criminal complaints unsealed in Manhattan federal court against five individuals. Meanwhile, police worldwide said they had recently arrested 97 people in 16 countries suspected of using or distributing the malicious software called BlackShades.

"This case is a strong reminder that no one is safe while using the Internet," said Koen Hermans, an official representing the Netherlands in the European Union's criminal investigation co-ordination unit, Eurojust. "It should serve as a warning and deterrent to those involved in the manufacture and use of this software."

The FBI said the BlackShades Remote Access Tool has been sold since at least 2010 to several thousand users. The agency said one of the program's co-creators is now co-operating with the government and had provided extensive information.

The malware lets hackers steal personal information, intercept keystrokes and hijack webcams to make secret recordings of users. BlackShades also can be used to encrypt and lock a computer's data files, blocking the rightful owners from regaining access unless they pay a ransom.

Security experts have linked the program to attacks on Syrian dissidents in 2012 and attempts to steal data from more than a dozen French organizations last year. The low cost of the hacking tool has made it increasingly popular across the hacker underground, where variants have been circulating online for years.

Last year, security firm Symantec said that use of BlackShades was going up, with licenses for the program going for $40 to $100.

French officials said raids occurred last week after the FBI arrested two BlackShades developers and distributed a list of customers who had purchased the malware.

Law enforcement co-ordination agencies Europol and Eurojust, based in The Hague, Netherlands, said Monday that police in 13 European countries — Austria, Belgium, Britain, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Moldova, the Netherlands and Switzerland — as well as in the United States, Canada and Chile raided 359 properties and seized cash, firearms, drugs and more than 1,000 data storage devices.

The two European agencies declined to provide country-by-country breakdowns of arrests, details of items seized or the specific days when last week's raids occurred.

In Paris, the state prosecutor's office said French detectives arrested more than two dozen people during May 13 raids and described the global nature of the arrests and searches as an unprecedented "new form of judicial action." It said those arrested were identified by the FBI as French "citizens who had acquired or used this software."

In a BlackShades-related investigation before the latest global arrests, Dutch police earlier this year arrested an 18-year-old man for using the malware to take pictures of women and girls using about 2,000 computers.

___

Sterling reported from Amsterdam. Associated Press writers Jamey Keaten in Paris, Raphael Satter in London and Tom Hays in New York contributed to this report.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Sudden Surge: Flood of 2014
Opportunity Magazine — The Bakken
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media