The FBI says more than a half million computers in more than 100 countries were infected by sophisticated malware that lets cybercriminals take over a computer and hijack its webcam.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called BlackShades a "frightening form of cybercrime," saying a cybercriminal could buy a $40 malicious program whose capabilities were "sophisticated and its invasiveness breathtaking." FBI Agent Leo Taddeo said people suspecting they are BlackShades victims should visit FBI.gov to learn how to check computers.
Click here to learn about how to know if your comptuer could be affected.
The FBI described its investigation in criminal complaints unsealed in Manhattan federal court Monday as charges against five individuals were announced. Meanwhile, police worldwide said they had recently arrested 97 people in 16 countries suspected of using or distributing the malicious software called BlackShades.
The software was used last year against Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf in what became known as a cyber "sextortion" case. Wolf, then 19 years old, told reporters last August she had received an anonymous email in which the sender claimed to have nude photos of her, captured from her webcam, and threatened to post the photos online unless Wolf gave him more nude pictures or videos. The suspect in that case, 20-year-old Jared James Abrahams, pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.