12 Arrested in RAT Bust

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 @ 03:12 PM gHale

Twelve people ended up arrested in Europol’s Operation Falling sTAR, which hunted down Europeans that misused Remote Access Trojans (RATs) to commit cyber crime.

Together with local law enforcement agencies, Europol conducted home searches, seized equipment and arrested 12 people in France, Norway and Romania.

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Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) coordinated this round of arrests.

“Operation Falling sTAR is another striking example of how coordinated international efforts and effective law enforcement partnerships can counter and prevent cyber criminality,” said Wil van Gemert, Europol’s Deputy Director Operations.

“The very technologies that empower people in everyday situations can be exploited to target and harm unsuspecting victims. As crimes committed online remain an urgent and increasing challenge, law enforcement agencies have to join forces across borders and act in unison to protect the users and prevent young individuals from pursuing a criminal path,” he said.

No details were immediately available on what type of RATs police said the suspects were using.

In October, Europol made similar arrests, apprehending RAT users from the UK, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Belgium. In those cases, the suspects used the DroidJack RAT, which targets Android devices.

Operation Falling sTAR is part of Europol’s crusade against the use of Remote Access Trojans, either for cyber crime or for spying.

A Remote Access Trojan (also called Remote Access Tool) allows hackers to infect computers or smartphones and then spy on their victims.

They can take screenshots, spy via the webcam, listen in on conversations via the microphone, steal data from the device, install malicious applications, intercept IM chats or SMS messages.

More powerful RATs allow attackers to use infected devices as bots inside distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Technically, even if most RATs end up developed by security researchers for penetration tests, most antivirus engines categorize them as malware.