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An investigation by a British talk radio station has shone light on the hackers who spy on young girls via webcams on compromised PCs.
The investigation, by BBC Radio Five Live also found a profitable underground market selling access to victims, known as “slaves”. The attackers compromise PCs using emailed malware, the investigators said. One Finnish hacker, speaking to the investigators said, “I can make money from it, so why not.”
The attacks are referred to as “ratting” due to their use of “Remote Access Tools” – offering hackers or their customers access to webcams on compromised PCs, and access to hard drives and personal files.
The investigators spoke to criminals who had used the technique, including a 16-year-old referred to as “John”, who said he had hacked more than 100 computers. “The risk of getting caught isn’t that much. It’s just a bit of a laugh. I wasn’t really looking for anything, just their reactions. I’d open shock sites – they’d see a scary picture or someone screaming, and you’d see they were scared. There are creepy people who post pictures of female slaves. I’m not really into that.”
In a blog post detailing the capabilities of Remote Access Tools, ESET Security Evangelist Stephen Cobb writes “How serious can a malicious software infection be these days? Short answer – very. R.A.T. – Remote Access Tool – is one of the most popular categories of “crimeware” being deployed by cybercriminals today.”
Tony Neate of the British Government’s Get Safe Online campaign, said: “As more cases of ‘ratting’ come to light, there is a serious need to educate the public about the methods hackers use to access the private lives of innocent people. The most at-risk computers are those running older software, and those without up-to-date anti-virus software installed.”
Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security