Webcam spyware voyeur sentenced to community service

Nabbed in operation targeting 'low-skilled' crooks

A UK voyeur who hacked webcams to spy on victims has avoided going to prison for his crimes.

Stefan Rigo, 33, of Leeds, used the Blackshades malware to infect systems and spy on victims. He was arrested in November 2014 as part of an international operation targeting low-skilled crooks using Blackshades, which gives hackers complete control of compromised Windows PCs.

“A forensic examination of Rigo’s computer equipment found a series of images that involved people engaged in sexual acts over Skype or in front of their computers,” a statement by police at the UK’s National Criminal Agency explains. “Under interview Rigo admitted using functions of Blackshades that enabled him to control others’ webcams and monitor their desktops, enabling him to obtain passwords and email content.”

Rigo was found guilty of voyeurism offences following a trial at Leeds Magistrates Court. During his trial the 33-year-old admitted to being addicted to monitoring people via their computers, spending five to 12 hours a day doing so over a three-year period. He also pled guilty to hacking (Computer Misuse Act) offences.

The voyeur received a 40-week suspended sentence for his offences. In addition, Rigo's name was added to the sex offenders register for seven years and he was ordered to perform 200 hours of unpaid work during a sentencing hearing on 7 October. His computers have been seized.

Angela McKenna, senior investigating officer for the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “People using malicious tools like Blackshades can massively violate the privacy of their victims, and use compromised computers to facilitate further crime.

“Users of these tools are continuing to find that despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and brought to justice by the NCA and its partners,” she added.

Tips for avoiding infection from malicious RATs such as Blackshades can be found on UK government websites, and Victims of online crimes can report them to the police via Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.

Malware has been used to spy on victims for years. Many such scams rely on spying on vulnerable youngsters alone in their bedrooms and capturing images before blackmailing victims into handing over more salacious material. Targets of such sextortion scams down the years have included former Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf and many others.

Security experts reckon the privacy problem of devices in the home is only going to get worse with the growing popularity of (often insecure) Internet of Things devices.

Adrian Beck, director of enterprise security program management at application security firm Veracode, commented: ”With yet another case of webcams compromised by hackers, the threat of insecure connected devices to our privacy could never be clearer. In this shocking case, people’s most intimate moments were watched, and the threat of compromised connected devices will only get worse as we introduce more and more smart products into our homes.” ®

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