A global cybercrime network that sold hacking tools that allowed users to take over other people’s devices has been shut down in a major operation spanning several countries, Europol said in a statement on Friday.
As part of an international crackdown led by Australia’s Federal Police service, the EU’s police coordination agency said it had dismantled a cybercrime network called IM-RAT (Imminent Monitor Remote Access Trojan).
The hacking tool allowed users to take control of previously targeted users’ computers and steal their login credentials, giving access to bank accounts and other financial accounts.
According to Europol’s press release, the authorities issued search warrants in June this year against the developer of IM-RAT in Australia and an employee of the organisation in Belgium.
In addition, 13 of the most prolific IM-RAT customers were arrested in Australia, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. More than 430 devices seized during the searches are being analysed.
Once installed, IM-RAT gave the users full control over the victims’ computers, allowing them to carry out various malicious actions, such as: saving codes typed on the keyboard, stealing data and passwords from browsers, spying on victims via their webcams, disabling anti-virus and anti-malware software, and terminate running processes, among dozens of other actions.
Europol said the tool had more than 14,500 buyers across 124 countries and had been used to infect tens of thousands of victims.
“We are now living in a world where, for only $ 25, a cybercriminal on the other side of the world can, with just a click of the mouse, access your personal data or photos of someone close to you, or even spy on you,” says Steven Wilson, Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre.
“The global law enforcement cooperation we have seen in this case is integral to tackling criminal groups who develop such tools,” he added.