21 May 2014

The news that cybercriminals who created and utilised the remote administration tool (RAT) Blackshades have been charged feels like a real turning point for online safety.

This was a computer programme that allowed hackers to take control of their victims’ computers and even watch them through their webcams. So the arrest of these cybercriminals, fifteen of them in England, really is a landmark moment.

blackshade_100_hackersI think it sends out a clear message to hackers that you might think you can hide, but everything is traceable and you will be held accountable. The authorities are getting so much better at tracing criminal activity online now. Admittedly, they’ve been a bit slow on the uptake, but you can’t really blame them when you consider the rate at which the internet is evolving.

For cybercriminals, it’s really a case of risk versus reward; what is the actual reward of doing this? A lot of people hack other people or install RATs simply because they can and they think they’ll get away with it. What’s worth pointing out though is that the people doing the hacking are often really intelligent individuals at the cutting edge of technology. The question I would ask is how can we get them inspired into creating systems that can make a positive impact?

It will be interesting to see the level of punishment criminals receive for Blackshades, as it’s likely the police will make an example of them. It’s understandable though. After all, mentally attacking somebody is just as brutal as physically attacking somebody.

Everybody knows somebody who’s suffered some kind of cybercrime. We have to clean the internet up if we want it to be an incredible asset that we pass to our children. I feel quite positive that, once there’s a process in place the flood gates will open and we’ll gain momentum with catching and prosecuting cybercriminals.

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