Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Successful action against Blackshades

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By Ms. Michèle Coninsx, Eurojust president.

Cybercrime is increasing as organized crime groups use Internet for illegal activities such as fraud, theft and child pornography. The rapid speed of technology developments means governments struggle to keep pace with cybercriminals. This problem is intensified by the fact that it is almost impossible to determine the exact location from which a crime was committed. This is the so-called issue of territoriality which is inherent in cybercrime. One of the main tasks of Eurojust is therefore to make the cooperation between Member States work better in cross-border criminal investigations. Cybercrime is one of the crime areas targeted by Eurojust.

 Successful action against Blackshades.

In May 2014, Eurojust coordinated a worldwide operation against creators, users and sellers of BlackShades malware. BlackShades sold and distributed malicious software, including BlackShades RAT, a sophisticated piece of malware that enables its users to remotely gain complete control over a victim’s computer. Once installed on a victim’s computer, a user of the RAT is free to, among other things, access and view documents, photographs and other files, record all of the keystrokes entered, and even activate the webcam on the victim’s computer. All these actions can be made without the victim’s knowledge. Ultimately, criminals can extract access codes or use the information to blackmail victims. During the two action days in May, 359 house searches were carried out worldwide, and 97 people were arrested. Over 1,100 data storage devices suspected of being used in illegal activities, as well as substantial quantities of cash, illegal firearms and drugs, were seized. Authorities also succeeded in seizing the BlackShades website domain. This cross-border operation involved 16 countries (Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, UK, Finland, Austria, Estonia, Denmark, Italy, Croatia, USA, Canada, Chile, Switzerland and Moldova) and was unprecedented in its size.

Cybercrime is particularly damaging to citizens, the private and public sectors, as well as the economy. The global direct cost of cybercrime was estimated at USD 113 billion in 2013 (Source: Symantec 2013), but the costs are not merely financial. Cybercrime undermines trust in the digital society and what governments can do to maintain justice and order. The fight against cybercrime must remain a priority, and Eurojust is committed to continue working to encourage cross-border investigations into this crime type that knows no borders.

Eurojust is the European Union’s judicial cooperation unit. The Eurojust College is composed of 28 senior representatives from each Member State, who are experienced prosecutors, judges or police officers of equivalent competence. In 2013, Eurojust handled 1.576 cases in the following crime areas: cybercrime; terrorism; drug trafficking; trafficking in human beings; fraud; corruption; environmental crime and organised crime groups.


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