Warning to be vigilant after rise in malware scams

Warning to be vigilant after rise in malware scams

Australians have been advised to be vigilant due to a rise in criminals seizing control of their devices through hidden viruses in genuine emails and games.

The Australian Federal Police said there has been a surge in Remote Access Trojans, also known as RATS, which is a type of malicious malware that allows a third party to access and steal sensitive personal information.

Cybercriminals obtain RATs to embed viruses into devices through downloadable email attachments hidden within ‘legitimate’ links, and computer video gaming.

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Police said once the RAT has been downloaded, malware automatically installs onto the user’s device, allowing a cybercriminal to control and access webcams, microphones, online credentials, passwords, geolocation data, files, and log history.

“These viruses, known as RATs, are the tools of cybercriminals and are built to spread and takeover a victim’s device, just like a plague,” AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Goldsmid said.

“This is a reminder for all Australians to practice good cyber hygiene, and of how important it is to keep software and virus protection updated.

“Vulnerabilities in old or unprotected software are often the target for criminals attempting to gain control over a system so the owner can be targeted and exploited.”

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Police have charged an Australian man in April after he allegedly developed and sold a RAT called ‘Firebird’ to a number of customers on a hacking forum website while a Geelong man was sentenced to a three-year good behaviour bond last year after he purchased an Orcus RAT online from a Canadian national.

A 27-year-old Maltese national was also arrested in February, due to his alleged involvement in the distribution of the RAT ‘Warzone’.

Anyone caught using RAT technology in Australia can face a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

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