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Remote access trojans lead to cybercrime arrests across Europe

Europol confirmed late last week that it has arrested 15 people for using malware and remote access trojans (RATs) to engage in criminal activities online.

Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) confirmed that arrests were made in Estonia, France, Italy, Latvia, Norway and Romania, with five UK-based individuals also taken into custody.

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In a statement issued last Friday, the deputy director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit Andy Archibald said that the arrests showed that remote access criminals were not untouchable.

“The illegal use of remote access trojans is a significant cyber crime threat, demanding this kind of strong, coordinated response from international to local UK level,” he said.

“Suspected users of RATs are continuing to find that, despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and arrested by the NCA and its partners.”

RATs can be installed on the victim’s PC or Android device and are often used to take control of an individual’s webcam without their knowledge. Cyber criminals then capture images and video of the victim, who is often female, which is then used for blackmailing purposes.

Attackers can also control what the victim views online and can direct them to graphic or potentially harmful websites.

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The NCA arrests follow a similar worldwide operation that occurred back in May 2014, resulting in the arrest of more than 100 individuals for similar remote access crimes.