Scott: This week, law enforcement officials announced what they are calling the largest international cyber crackdown ever. More than 90 people in 19 different countries were arrested for being linked to the spyware called the Blackshades RAT. It infected more than a half-a-million computers. And one of the computers belonged to Miss Teen USA. Keith Kocinski has her story.
Keith: The day Cassidy Wolf was crowned Miss Teen USA was one of the best days of her life. But she knows all to well that life in the public eye has its risks. When Cassidy was Miss Teen California, police say a former high school classmate hijacked her webcam using spyware.
Cassidy Wolf: It took me a second to realize that those photos were of my bedroom, those photos were of me. I looked at them thinking, ‘oh, that’s the color of my bedroom wall,’ and ‘wait, that’s my TV,’ and ‘wait, that’s me!’
Keith: You may wonder how this happened to Cassidy. Well, it is actually pretty simple. The hacker gained access to her computer after she clicked on a link in an email that downloaded spyware. Once the spyware was downloaded, the hacker pretty much had access to her computer from anywhere, allowing him to take photos and videos of her on his own computer.
Cassidy isn’t alone. Over a half million computers in a hundred countries were infected with the same type of spyware, specifically one called the Blackshades RAT. RAT meaning ‘remote access tool’.
Preet Bharara: For just $40, the Blackshades RAT enabled anyone anywhere in the world to instantly become a dangerous cyber criminal. The Blackshades RAT allowed users to remotely and secretly gain access to everything on the victim’s computer, including private photographs and documents and even passwords to online accounts.
Keith: In many cases, when the hacker had the information, they tried to blackmail victims, demanded money and threatened to eliminate the victim’s access to their own computer and files.
Luckily, in Cassidy’s case, the teenager who hijacked her computer was arrested. And Cassidy is speaking out to help others prevent what happened to her. She recommends covering your webcam when you are not using it. And she is spreading the word about a new software called SnoopWall which turns off your webcam if someone is operating your computer from a distance and sends you an alert.
That is how this beauty is handling the beast of cyberspace.
Keith Kocinski, Channel One News.
Scott: Want more ideas on how to protect yourself from being hacked? Well, get tips on defending your devices over at ChannelOne.com.