Jared James Abrahams, 19, a computer science student from Temecula, California, was arrested after he revealed online images taken surreptitiously to his victims, known as "slaves" in hacker forums, for the purposes of extortion, as reported Friday by Reena Das of the Global Dispatch.
After hacking into his victims' computers and watching them through their webcams over long periods of time, Abrahams threatened his victims that he would post the images if they did not comply with his demands for online sexual favors.
The hackers freely discuss their criminal activity in places such as HackForums, and post images of their victims on YouTube and online message boards. The hackers can access computer files of their victims, and the software can even "put files of its own on your system," as reported by Adam Kujawa of Malwarebytes.org.
As Nate Anderson of arstechnica wrote, the hackers "operate quite openly online." Anderson explains that children are often startled by scary or pornagraphic images posted by the hackers, just so they can laugh at their reactions. Hackers stalk women and teens, hoping to capture an intimate photo. Embarrassing images are often captured and shared online, as well.
It is not a stretch to think that this technology could be used to target enemies, for the purposes of exploring files, planting undesirable files, or capturing personal moments with the intention of extortion.
Last month, Anthony Martin of the Examiner reported that Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes and Dan Johnson of People Against the National Defense Appropriations Act were targeted in a scheme to trick Johnson into clicking on a file that seemed to have been sent from Rhodes, his "close personal colleague." Martin wrote,
"Had Johnson opened the files, the program would have automatically placed child porn on his computer, with Rhodes as the supposed sender."
Could such files be placed on a computer by using RAT software? How many people fall prey to the Jared James Abrahams' of the world? It is not known, and if Abrahams did not push it to the next level by attempting to extort his victims, his activities would likely have stayed under the radar.
Abrahams' case illustrates that the time is now to take this crime seriously.