THE UK NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY (NCA) has arrested five people as part of a crackdown on hackers who hijack computers using Remote Access Trojans (RATs).
The NCA said on Friday that it has arrested two 33-year-old men and a 30-year-old woman from Leeds, along with a 20 year-old man from Chatham in Kent and a 40-year-old from Darlington in Yorkshire.
A further 11 individuals were apprehended in Estonia, France, Romania, Latvia, Italy and Norway in an operation carried out by Europol.
The arrests come as part of an international crackdown on the threat posed by RATs, which are used to remotely take over and steal information from computers.
Hackers can pilfer information such as financial details, download potentially illegal content, carry out DDoS attacks and access and switch on webcams.
The danger of unsecured webcams was highlighted earlier this week by the Information Commissioner's Office, which warned that failure to change webcam passwords could lead to images being streamed to sites in Russia.
Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit, said: "The illegal use of RATs is a significant cyber threat, demanding this kind of strong, coordinated response from international to local UK level.
"Suspected users of RATs are continuing to find that, despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and arrested by the NCA and its partners.
"This operation demonstrates once again that all of UK law enforcement is working to respond effectively to cyber crime, and together we will continue to target those who use technology to misuse other people’s devices, steal their money, or unlawfully access confidential information.
"Anyone who is tempted to get involved in this type of crime should understand that it can result in prison time and substantial restrictions on your life afterwards."
The NCA has warned that, in order to protect against RAT software, PC users should avoid "clicking on unknown links, or files sent from unidentified or suspicious sources".
The cyber police unit has treated us to a video of the arrest (below), which those into anticlimactic crime dramas may enjoy. µ
'Some of us like the misery'
That'll surely affect its credit score