– Remote Access Trojans, and provides best practice tips
Often consumers stick a piece of tape over the webcam on their laptop. Many have heard the stories about people being spied on using their own computer or people being blackmailed using embarrassing or incriminating video footage unknowingly recorded from compromised webcams. These stories are true, and precaution against this type of activity is necessary.
Remote access Trojans (RATs), or what
What is creepware
The acronym RAT is one that is often used when talking about a piece of software that allows someone to control a computer from a remote location. RAT can be an abbreviation for any of the following: Remote Access/Administration Tool or Remote Access/Administration Trojan.
The difference between remote access tools and remote access Trojans is that the latter is installed secretly and used for malicious purposes. There are many remote access tools, which are used for legitimate reasons such as technical support or connecting to a home or work computer while travelling etc. Unfortunately the same useful features found in remote access tools can be used for malicious activity and a great deal of malware has been designed with this in mind; these programs are called remote access Trojans. Once these Trojans are installed on a victim's computer they can allow an attacker to gain almost complete control of it.
What's the big deal
While there was a time when the use of creepware was relatively rare, it is now unfortunately becoming more common. Users of creepware can range from those who make money from extortion and fraud to those using the software for what they see as harmless fun or pranking, otherwise known as trolling.
Unfortunately, creepware users may not see, or care about, the damage that can be caused by creepware. There are plenty of cases where innocent people have fallen prey to creepware and have been left traumatized or worse by their attackers.
Attackers can threaten to post stolen or recorded content online, and if this threat is carried out the victim's reputation can be permanently damaged. The effects of this type of harassment and cyberbullying in general are long lasting and can even lead to suicide. Creepware, it would seem, is a cyberbully's ideal tool.
What can creepware do
Creepware programs, such as Pandora RAT, allow an attacker to gain access to the following items on a compromised computer: Files, Processes, Services, Clipboard, Active network connections, Registry, Printers. Some programs also allow an attacker to: Remotely control the compromised desktop; Take screenshots; Record webcam footage; Record audio; Log keystrokes; Steal passwords; Download files; Open Web pages; Display onscreen messages; Play audio messages using the text-to-speech function; Restart the compromised computer; Hide the taskbar; Hide desktop icons; Cause system failure/blue screen of death.
Creepware has many different uses including:
What can users do to protect themselves
The following methods may be used to infect computers with creepware:
To stay protected against creepware,
In today's world, computers play an important role in our lives and the idea that such a ubiquitous tool could be used by an attacker to invade our privacy is a scary thought. While creepware is capable of causing a great deal of damage, taking appropriate defensive steps can keep you protected. By having good up-to-date security software and following some basic best practices we can all keep the creeps out of our computers.
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