A hacker who used the notorious Blackshades RAT malware to hijack webcams on computers, and secretly watch people engaged in sexual activity, has avoided prison.

Stefan Rigo, of Leeds in the United Kingdom, was said to have voyeuristically observed his victims - over half of whom were personally known to him - for between five and 12 hours each day, seeing everything they did in front of their computer.

12 hours a day? That sounds like a dangerous addiction to me. Rigo could have probably done with some more Vitamin D in his diet through a dose of sunlight.

Rigo's unhealthy obssession saw him spy upon individuals, some while they were using Skype to have private, intimate chats with other users.

In addition to observing his victims through their hijacked webcam, Rigo was also capable of stealing passwords from infected computers, reading email conversations, launch denial-of-service attacks, access banking data and so forth...

Stefan Rigo

Rigo was arrested in November 2014, as part of an international operation rounding up hackers suspected of remotely hijack other people's computers.

According to local media reports, Rigo had used an ex-girlfriend's banking details to purchase the Blackshades malware - perhaps not the wisest choice for someone intending to avoid identification...

With the court taking Rigo's guilty pleas counts of voyeurism and offences under the Computer Misuse Act earlier this year into account, the 34-year-old was given a 20 week suspended sentence and will be placed on the sexual offenders' register for seven years. In addition he will have to perform 200 hours of community service.

Angela McKenna, senior investigating officer for the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit, said in a statement that hackers using tools like BlackShades will be pursued:

"People using malicious tools like Blackshades can massively violate the privacy of their victims, and use compromised computers to facilitate further crime. Users of these tools are continuing to find that despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and brought to justice by the NCA and its partners."

It's good to hear that another webcam hacker has been caught, but one has to wonder whether this kind of punishment acts as an effective deterrent to other potential webcam hackers.

Notable past victims of webcam hacking include Cassidy Wolf, the American model who was crowned Miss Teen USA in 2013.

In her case, Wolf was spied upon by one of her former classmates – Jared James Abrahams – who had installed the Blackshades RAT malware on her laptop in order to covertly take naked photographs of the beauty queen.

Alex Yücel, the 25-year-old Swedish co-creator of the BlackShades malware was sentenced to 57 months in prison, after a court hear that Blackshades had infected more than half a million computers worldwide.

Further reading: The dirty secrets of webcam-hacking peeping toms and sextortionists.