Five people have been arrested in the UK as part of an ongoing international operation led by the country’s National Crime Agency (NCA) with support from officers in a number of police Regional Organised Crime Units, for allegedly hijacking computers using Remote Access Trojans (RATs).
The NCA confirmed the arrests, which took place on 19 and 20 November, and said that two 33-year-old men and a 30-year-old woman from Leeds, a 20 year-old man from Chatham in Kent and a 40-year-old from Darlington in Yorkshire were among the detained five. A 19-year-old man, from Liverpool, was also brought in for voluntary questioning on 21 November.
11 more individuals were arrested across Estonia, France, Romania, Latvia, Italy, and Norway in an operation carried out by Europol.
The Remote Access Trojans (RATs) let hackers remotely take over and steal information from computers without much effort and without the owner’s knowledge.
Using the suspicious software, hackers can easily turn victims’ webcams on and off, access their banking or other personal information, download illegal content, and even use the machine in a Distributed Denial of Service attack.
Andy Archibald, Deputy Director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said “The illegal use of Remote Access Trojans is a significant cyber crime threat, demanding this kind of strong, coordinated response from international to local UK level. Suspected users of RATs are continuing to find that, despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and arrested by the NCA and its partners.
“This operation demonstrates once again that all of UK law enforcement is working to respond effectively to cyber crime, and together we will continue to collaboratively target those who use technology to misuse other people’s devices, steal their money, or unlawfully access confidential information.
“Anyone who is tempted to get involved in this type of crime should understand that it can result in prison time, and substantial restrictions on your life afterwards.”
As a preventive measure to stay safe from the malicious RAT software, the NCA has urged PC users to avoid clicking on unknown links, or files sent from unidentified or suspicious sources and ensure that security software and computer operating systems are maintained up to date.