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100 malware peddlers arrested across the globe over BlackShades RAT

A major operation has been carried out by authorities across the globe, with around a hundred people being arrested in over a dozen countries concerning malware known as BlackShades.

Those collared have been charged with using or distributing BlackShades, which reportedly has infected some 500,000 computers in over 100 countries worldwide. According to the BBC, the National Crime Agency said that 17 of those malware peddlers or users came from the UK (15 from England, 2 from Scotland).

BlackShades is a RAT (Remote Access Trojan), a piece of malware which gives the author a backdoor to remote access a computer in order to carry out deviousness such as observing through the webcam, accessing files, or keylogging (pinching passwords or other sensitive typed information).

The operation involved authorities in the US, Europe and Asia, and the coordinated anti-malware action nabbed the most prolific users and developers of the malware, including a Swedish hacker who was the co-creator of the RAT.

The malware was popular because it was cheap to pick up, being available for around $40 (£24), and according to the FBI, several thousand folks have purchased BlackShades over the last few years.

The Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on e-crime, Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, commented that the operation "sends out a clear message to cyber criminals that we have the technology, capability and expertise to track them down".

As ever, if you want to avoid getting bitten by a RAT, be careful where you go online – don't just blindly click on links from Facebook, or open email attachments without any thought. And keep a decent antivirus program running, with regular updates and scans. The real problem with malware like RATs is you may well not have any clue you're infected, while activity on your machine is being fully monitored.