A worldwide law enforcement operation has resulted in the Imminent Monitor Remote Access Trojan (IM-RAT) being taken down completely, Europol has announced.
Designed to provide its users with full control over the victim computers, IM-RAT was being used across 124 countries and over 14,500 people paid to use it.
The takedown, Europol announced, was the result of a coordinated operation led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), with participation from agencies in Europe, Colombia and Australia.
In June 2019, authorities executed search warrants in Australia and Belgium against the developer and one employee of IM-RAT.
Over a one-week period in November, action was taken against the Imminent Monitor infrastructure and those who bought the hacking tool. Thirteen of the most prolific IM-RAT users have been arrested and more than 430 devices were seized.
During the last week of November, law enforcement activities were carried out in Australia, Colombia, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Once installed on a victim computer, the RAT provided attackers with complete control over the machine, allowing them to disable anti-malware software, execute commands, record keystrokes, steal data and passwords, and even spy on the victims via their webcams.
The Trojan was considered a significant threat not only due to its capabilities, but also because it was easy to use and had a low cost, at only $25.
Authorities believe that the RAT’s users hit tens of thousands of victims worldwide, and evidence has already revealed the theft of personal details, passwords, private photos, videos, and other data.
“We now live in a world where, for just US$25, a cybercriminal halfway across the world can, with just a click of the mouse, access your personal details or photographs of loved ones or even spy on you. […] It is also important to remember that some basic steps can prevent you falling victim to such spyware: we continue to urge the public to ensure their operating systems and security software are up to date,” Steven Wilson, head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), said.