FBI cracks down on computer crimes

The Federal Bureau of Investigation focused on users of the Blackshades software in a recent crackdown that covered 17 countries, including the United States. The software has been used by hackers to commit Internet crime and gain remote access to webcams and hard drives. The bust — the culmination of a two-year investigation — was overseen by around 12 FBI cybercrime investigators in the FBI’s special operations center in New York.

According to reports, more than 100 people were arrested, including the co-creator of the Blackshades malware, and countless computers were confiscated. Agents with the FBI were reportedly monitoring chat rooms and discussion boards frequented by hackers in an effort to keep tabs on the community’s discussion during the operation, and the agency also took down a site that sold Blackshades.

According to one of the FBI cybercrime investigators, the international operation was put into place because of how fast the cybercrime industry has been growing. One of the more well-known cases of the Blackshades software being used for Internet crime is the blackmailing case from 2013 involving the then-current Miss Teen USA and a former classmate who installed the Blackshades malware on her computer. He accessed nude photos. The former classmate ended up pleading guilty to unauthorized access of a computer and extortion and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The man had reportedly used the software on as many as 150 computers, including some in Maryland.

Cybercrime is relatively new, but Internet crimes are being increasingly prosecuted as legislation catches up to the advances in technology. For those accused of such crimes, having a complete understanding of their rights and the charges against them is vital to criminal defense strategies.

Source:  FOXCT, “Inside FBI’s Massive Cybercrime Bust” Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz, May. 19, 2014