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Europol have been working alongside a number of European law enforcement authorities in an attempt to crackdown against the use of Remote Access Trojans (RATs), reports ZD Net.
The operation, known as Operation Falling sTAR, took place in France, Norway and Romania, leading to the arrests of 12 people following a number of house searches.
RATs are hard to detect given their invisibility on an infected system. They are used to spy on victims’ computers as well as collect various data including both passwords and credit card information. They can even go so far as to record a victim’s actions using the webcam and microphone.
Europol used a number of coordination meetings, collating intelligence for the other nations involved in the operation in order to make the arrests. All nations that participated worked within the framework of the EMPACT project to carry out the operation. The suspects were EU citizens, primarily young adults who were found to be misusing RATs for the sole purpose of committing cybercrime offences.
Europol’s Debut Director of Operations, Wil van Gemert, said, “As crimes committed online remain an urgent and increasing challenge, law enforcement agencies have to join forces across borders and act in unison to protect the users and prevent young individuals from pursuing a criminal path. Operation Falling sTAR is another striking example of how coordinated international efforts and effective law enforcement partnerships can counter and prevent cyber criminality.”
The issue of malware is always a growing concern for authorities across the world. The IB Times recently reported that online ‘pirates’ can earn up to $70m each year by spreading malware, including the likes of RATs, on users’ computers.
Projects like Operation Falling sTAR, however, are a step in the right direction with regards to fighting cybercrime, and a clear sign that authorities are treating the matter with the importance it deserves.
Author Kyle Ellison, ESET