Blackshades RAT User Pleads Guilty

Blackshades RAT User Pleads Guilty

by Andrew Buckmaster

Blackshades RAT User Pleads Guilty to Using Illegal Hacking Software

Breaking news in the world of online security: Blackshades RAT user pleads guilty to using illegal hacking software. In case you’re not familiar with the topic, the Blackshades Remote Access Trojan (or RAT) is a very dangerous type of Trojan virus which I previously covered in an earlier PC Pitstop post in June. I intended to warn readers about the damage it can do through stealing their personal information. A RAT virus functions in a similar manner to a harmless Remote Access Tool. Businesses often use these ordinary RAT for administrative functions. The purpose of the Blackshades RAT virus is to steal sensitive information from a targeted computer or to completely hijack that computer for ransom. Blackshades, the company, created the Blackshades RAT virus with the intent of selling it to users who wish to hack into computers or networks.

Needless to say, the company provides a less than legitimate disclosure at the beginning of their program’s installation. The FBI managed to unveil their activity and shut down their network through two different waves of arrests. The first came in 2012. During the initial arrest, the Bureau took down Michael Hogue, the company’s main coder. Unfortunately, placing Hogue in custody didn’t put a stop to the virulence with which hackers continued to infect computers all over the world using the RAT. The Bureau conducted a second wave of arrests in May 2014. During the second wave, they managed to significantly halt the spread of the virus by taking other key players from the company into custody.

The Blackshades virus recently caught the attention of the technology world once more with the legal proceedings involving Marlen Rappa, a resident of Middletown Township, NJ. Rappa was taken into custody the earlier 2012 arrests. Officials charged Rappa for using the Blackshades commercial hacking software to break into 95 computers of at least 45 different people. Officials stated that he stole photos and videos (some of which were sexually explicit) by activating the machine’s video camera without the users being aware of it.

At the end of last month (October 2014), Rappa was tried. He plead guilty to the charges before a Manhattan Federal Court. His attorney states that Rappa feels terribly sorry for what happened. This display of remorse was probably the deciding factor in his softer legal bargain. Prosecutors reached a plea agreement with Marlen Rappa which contained certain guidelines for his future sentence. Rappa’s sentence has been scheduled to take place on January 29th, 2015. According to the terms, the court should sentence the man to imprisonment somewhere between 6 to 12 months. He will also be forced to pay a fine of up to $20,000. The court may decide to punish Mr. Rappa beyond this lenient limit if a federal judge feels like the sentence guidelines are not severe enough for the offences committed.

In spite of this small legal victory in the global crackdown against malware, there are still some very dangerous bugs out there besides RAT viruses. These programs can turn your computer against you to harm you. One of the largest threats currently online is a ransom-asking malware known as Cryptowall.

Cryptowall essentially ‘locks all’ of your files away until you pay a ransom to get them back. Experts claim some victims have already paid more than $1 million to the creators of this malware.

Another unnamed malware program spread quickly through the internet. So far, this program has only targeted government computers and servers. Keep in mind that many government technologies contain sensitive information about its citizens. The malware made its way into their systems via mass emails sent to all of the employees. Although most of the infected computers were cleaned shortly after, this kind of incident raises a warning about what a malware virus could do to the world’s political and economic systems if it be allowed to wreak havoc inside computer support networks unchecked. Even if they’re not currently in the service of the state, all computer users should be very wary of mass emails or even suspicious emails from people they know. The Ebola scam email represents yet another malware infecting computers right now through mass email. Users inadvertently download the file from the email into their operating system. The messages have shocking, sensationalized titles such as “Ebola outbreak – FEMA storing 250,000 plastic coffins” to lure users into opening them. As much as you may worry about the disease, please don’t open any mass emails about it. You’re much better off receiving breaking news from a quality source such as the Newsery or Aljazeera.

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2 thoughts on “Blackshades RAT User Pleads Guilty”

  1. I hope the judge uses his/her discretion to greatly increase the time being served AND the fine should easily be more than $1 million. No telling the extent of damages that may have been incurred. Not to mention embarassment of the victims.

  2. I can’t believe the leniency of the sentence – the judge is totally oblivious to the damage this trojan caused. The sentence received provides no deterence for any hackers following this story. The judge is just as ignorant as the culprit.

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