Law enforcement cracks down on hackers

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Hackers can access your personal computer, steal information, and even look through your webcam. So, always be sure not to click on suspicious e-mails or links that sound too good to be true.

As the world becomes more interconnected, with smartphones, laptops, and wearable gadgets keeping us plugged into the internet and social media 24/7, so too does the danger of hackers increase. Now, lawmakers are taking a stand, as FBI agents and police in 17 countries started knocking on doors, snatching computers, and arresting hackers who used a nasty software called Blackshades to spy on people through their devices.

More than 100 people were linked to Blackshades malware (software intended to damage, disable, or corrupt computer systems), over 365 searches were conducted, and 102 interviews were completed. As the dramatic conclusion to a two-year operation, the sudden sweep was executed with the element of surprise to make sure suspects couldn’t destroy the evidence before getting caught. One of the people captured was a Swedish hacker who was a co-creator of Blackshades!

It’s not just shady citizens hacking cyberspace, either, as the USA’s Department of Justice announced on Monday that a grand jury indicted (formally accused) five Chinese military officers of stealing trade secrets from American companies. China denies any of it happened, but their allegedly government-sponsored hackers have long been suspected of numerous information thefts over the past few years. In fact, the FBI notified over 3,000 companies last year that they had been victims of cyber attacks, mostly from China, but also with a fair amount from Russia.

The crime of espionage, which involves spying to obtain political, military, or economic information, has come a long way since the days of secret agents disguising themselves in foreign countries. Now, with a few mouse clicks, cyber-espionage has cost USA companies an estimated $100 billion every year, especially with information thefts from solar power, steel, and nuclear power industries. Unfortunately, try as the USA might to take Chinese hackers to court, China’s government won’t agree to their extradition (turning over a citizen to a foreign country).

Featured image courtesy of Federal Bureau of Investigation Facebook. Image of hacking youth courtesy of Johan Viirok on Flickr.