Meet the Men Who Spy on Women Through Their Webcams

From Ars Technica:

“See! That shit keeps popping up on my fucking computer!” says a blond woman as she leans back on a couch, bottle-feeding a baby on her lap.

The woman is visible from thousands of miles away on a hacker’s computer. The hacker has infected her machine with a remote administration tool (RAT) that gives him access to the woman’s screen, to her webcam, to her files, to her microphone. He watches her and the baby through a small control window open on his Windows PC, then he decides to have a little fun. He enters a series of shock and pornographic websites and watches them appear on the woman’s computer.

The woman is startled. “Did it scare you?” she asks someone off camera. A young man steps into the webcam frame. “Yes,” he says. Both stare at the computer in horrified fascination. A picture of old naked men appears in their Web browser, then vanishes as a McAfee security product blocks a “dangerous site.”

“I think someone hacked into our computer,” says the young man.

Far away, the hacker opens his “Fun Manager” control panel, which provides a host of tools for messing with his RAT victims. He can hide their Windows “Start” button or the taskbar or the clock or the desktop, badly confusing many casual Windows users. He can have their computer speak to them. Instead, he settles for popping open the remote computer’s optical drive.

Even over the webcam, the sound of shock is clear. “Stay right here,” says the woman.

“Whoa!… the DVD thing just opened,” says the young man.

The hacker sends the pair a message that reads “achoo!” and the young man laughs in astonishment. “Disconnect from the Internet,” he says. “Your laptop’s going to go kaboom next.”

The video freezes, the mayhem lasting for slightly more than one minute. Copies of the incident aren’t hard to find. They’re on YouTube, along with thousands of other videos showing RAT controller (or “ratters,” as they will be called here) taunting, pranking, or toying with victims. But, of course, the kinds of people who watch others through their own webcams aren’t likely to limit themselves to these sorts of mere hijinks—not when computers store and webcams record far more intimate material.

9 Comments

  1. I’ll stick with my ‘overpriced’ 2007 iMac (that still runs great) behind my two layers of firewall and hidden wireless.

    *standing by for TD*

    1. I’m not sure the Macs are completely free of this. There’s at least one cross platform RAT package based on Java that can infect Macs and Linux. Still, I feel better not on Windows.

      Not sure what TD means, but sorry if my comment qualifies.

      1. Fortunately the vast majority of any malware/crud for mac requires the user to launch after multiple notices of ‘are you sure’.

        TD=Thumbs Down

  2. My desktop PC has neither a webcam, nor a microphone connected, mainly for that reason. It won’t stop a RAT from the other stuff like hiding the clock and taskbar, but if they can’t watch my reaction there’s no reason for them to bother with it.
    The only time I use a mic at all is when I’m training with Rosetta Stone, and that mic is attached to the headset, which is also only connected during training.

      1. I hadn’t thought about it, but you have a good point. I’m sure it’s more fun for these creeps to watch women being shocked and scared than watching men (and yes, you’re also right that I’m a guy). Just tonight I was telling my girlfriend about this article and it creeped her out a bit (understandably). She said she’s going to put a piece of tape over the cam on her laptop when she gets home, just in case.

  3. The software engineer who could figure out how to turn this around on these jerks so all they see is their own lame faces would stride the earth as a paragon of justice-dispensing technological prowess, and be eligible for the Nobel Prize in “Take that, MF’ers!”.

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