First rumors of the operation emerged last week, when the members of various popular hacker forums revealed that they were raided by police. On Monday, Europol confirmed the operation and provided more details.
Raids took place in over 10 countries, including Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Estonia, Austria, Canada, the US, Denmark, Chile, Italy and Croatia.
A total of more than 1,000 computers, laptops, mobile phones, USB sticks, external hard drives and routers were seized by investigators.
“This case is yet another example of the critical need for coordinated law enforcement operations against the growing number of cyber criminals operating on an EU and global level,” said Troels Oerting, head of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3).
“EC3 will continue – together with Eurojust and other partners – to work tirelessly to support our partners in the fight against fraudsters and other cyber criminals who take advantage of the Internet to commit crime. The work is far from over, but our cooperation to work together across borders has increased and we are dealing with cases on an ongoing basis.”
The BlackShades RAT, which is currently sold for between $40 and $100, is highly popular among cybercriminals. The malware can be used to hijack webcams, steal files, log keystrokes, and launch denial-of-service attacks against a designated target.
In a recent case in the Netherlands, an 18-year-old used it to infect over 2,000 computers. The teen hijacked the webcams of infected devices in an effort to capture intimate pictures of women.
The FBI arrested Michael Hogue, one of the creators of BlackShades, back in 2012. However, others continued to improve the RAT even after Hogue’s arrest. In November 2013, Symantec announced that the use of BlackShades had increased in the previous five months.
“This case is a strong reminder that no one is safe while using the internet, and should serve as a warning and deterrent to those involved in the manufacture and use of this software,” Koen Hermans, assistant to the National Member for the Netherlands, noted.
“This applies not only to victims, but also to the perpetrators of criminal and malicious acts. The number of countries involved in this operation has shown the inherent value in Eurojust’s coordination meetings and coordination centres.”