Human beings are the weakest link in cyber security chain and this was once again proved during the latest crackdown upon crackers and cyber criminals using the malware Blackshades. There were 700,000 estimated victims, whose computers have been hijacked by criminals using the Blackshades software. The crackdown was organised by law enforcement agencies of 19 countries around the world. This has also resulted in the arrest of 90 accused for allegedly using the malware. Among those arrested, in Moldova, was a Swedish hacker who was a co-creator of Blackshades.
Blackshades is another remote administration tool (RAT) that can compromise victim’s security and covertly activate his/her webcam. The modus operendi of infecting a victim’s computer is use of age old social engineering tactics using e-mail and other forms of electronic messages. Sending of a malicious link through e-mail and luring the victim to click the same is a common form of cyber attack that is very prevalent these days. Users of Blackshades also utilised this technique besides physically installing the malware wherever possible. The malware was used to commit various cyber crimes ranging from extortion to bank fraud.
Last week, watching it all play out were about two dozen FBI cyber crime investigators holed up in the New York FBI’s special operations center, high above lower Manhattan. Rows of computer screens flickered with updates from police in Germany, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Investigators followed along in real time as hundreds of search warrants were executed and suspects were interviewed. The sweep, capping a two-year operation, is one of the largest global cyber crime crackdowns ever. It was coordinated so suspects didn’t have time to destroy evidence.
Malware like Blackshades are successful because many computer users do not update anti-virus software. Many click on links sent in messages on social media sites such as Facebook, or in email, without knowing what they are clicking on. In seconds, malware is downloaded. Often computer users have no idea infection has taken place.