One of the latest attacks from hackers and hacker wannabees is the use of remote administration tools (RAT). Have you ever had a computer problem that required remote access, so that somebody from Hewlett Packard, say, could move your mouse around and see what was on your computer? Variations of such software can get on your computer the way viruses and malware do, and give access to hackers to see you through your webcam, listen to your microphone, keylog (gaining access to your credit cards), and steal your photos and other sensitive files.
There is a hacker subculture of mostly men, many of them adolescent, who use such technology to gain “slaves” — how they refer to their victims, usually female — whom they wish to spy on and grab any photos thereof, especially sexual.
You can find thousands of videos on YouTube of RATs harassing their victims. Such “ratters” can use a host of tactics to prank or harass their victims, assuming they want their presence to be known.
“Man I feel dirty looking at these pics,” wrote one poster at Hack Forums, in reference to a 130+ page thread showing female “slaves” pictures taken without them knowing. Hack Forum has more than 23 million total posts. “Poor people think they are alone in their private homes, but have no idea they are the laughing stock on HackForums. It would be funny if one of these slaves venture into learning how to hack and comes across this thread.”
In an article on Ars Technica, Adam Kujawa, a researcher at security firm MalwareBytes, was quote as having complied a list last summer of what the RAT program DarkComet was capable of, including:
Find out all system information, including hardware being used and the exact version of your operating system, including security patches
Control all the processes currently running on your system
View and modify your registry
Modify your Hosts file
Control your computer from a remote shell
Modify your startup processes and services, including adding a few of its own
Execute various types of scripts on your system
Modify/View/Steal your files
Put files of its own on your system
Steal your stored password
Listen to your microphone
Log your keystrokes (duh)
Scan your network
View your network shares
Mess with your MSN Messenger / Steal your contacts / Add new contacts!
Steal from your clipboard (things you’ve copied)
Control your printer
Lock/Restart/Shutdown your computer
Update the implant with a new address to beacon to or new functionality
Watch your webcam
Use your computer in a denial of service (DOS) attack
Hiding the Desktop—Hiding all the icons and making it impossible to right click on the desktop.
Hide the Clock—Self Explanatory
Hide Task Icons—In the little box on the right side of your start bar
Hide Sys Tray Icons—Hide icons and open application buttons on the taskbar
Hide Taskbar—Self Explanatory
Hide the Start Button—Only works in Win XP
Disable the Start Button (XP Only)—Gray out the start button, disabling it.
Disable TaskMgr—Disables the Windows Task Manager (When you hit Ctrl+Alt+Del)
Open/Close CD Tray—Self Explanatory
Said one ratter, who posts on Hack Forums, one of many places such creeps hang out, “Mostly I pick up the best bits (funny parts, the ‘good’ [sexual] stuff) and categorize them (name, address, passwords, etc.), just for the funsake. For me I don’t have the feeling of doing something perverted, it’s more or less a game, a cat and mouse game, with all the bonuses included. The weirdest thing is, when I see the person you’ve been spying on in real life, I’ve had that a couple of times, it just makes me giggle, especially if it’s someone with an uber-weird-nasty habit.”
On such forums, “slaves,” are traded or bartered for, and the technology for spying, blackmailing, or stealing credit cards is freely exchanged.
To avoid RATs, keep your computer up to date, have a good virus program, and you might try also Malwarebytes or Spybot, both free on the internet. These files infect your computer through executables you use, so avoid fishy looking torrents or other programs or files, such as shady links in emails.