Suspended Sentence for Brit Caught in FBI Creepware Sting

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A British man who hacked into webcams and CCTV so he could spy on people in their own homes and while on holiday has received a suspended prison sentence.

John Wood's voyeuristic crimes were uncovered in 2018 as part of a joint investigation by British police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States into the creator of LuminosityLink malware, Colton Grubbs.

The off-the-shelf malware could be secretly deployed on a computer with a Windows OS to hack into the device's webcam and broadcast footage back to the attacker. Threat actors could also use LuminosityLink to record keystrokes and entrap an infected computer into a botnet.

In 2018, Kentucky resident Grubbs admitted designing and selling LuminosityLink software to over 6,000 customers at $39.99 apiece, despite knowing that many of his customers were using it to spy on victims without their consent. 

Wood, of Minety near Swindon, pleaded guilty to two Computer Misuse Act charges and six counts of voyeurism at Swindon Crown Court. The 42-year-old was handed a two-year-suspended prison sentence. His barrister told the court Wood had been diagnosed with mental health difficulties.

According to the Swindon Advertiser, Wood purchased LuminosityLink software in 2015, but the court heard no evidence that he had used it. However, Wood did use a CCTV management product called Blue Iris to hack into webcams and spy on people. 

Between 2011 and 2016, Wood made over 1,400 illicit video recordings, "the majority of which showed people having sex at home," according to the newspaper. He also set up secret cameras inside and outside his own home in order to covertly film women. 

Wood didn't ditch his illegal activities when he went on vacation. The court heard that this committed voyeur set up hidden cameras at a holiday cottage and at the Bognor Regis Butlins holiday resort, capturing video of over 167 victims.

Judge Peter Crabtree, while passing sentence, described Wood as having engaged in a "systematic campaign of voyeurism over a period of six years."

While LuminosityLink's creator was sentenced to 30 months in prison in the United States and ordered to forfeit 114 Bitcoins worth $725K, Wood was ordered to register as a sex offender, complete 100 hours of community service, and attend a 30-day sex offender rehabilitation program.

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