Mounties Cuff Canadian Webcam Hacker

Canadian cyber police have arrested a 27-year-old woman on suspicion of spying on and harassing numerous computer users via their webcams.

statement posted on Wednesday by the Integrated Technological Crime Unit (ITCU) revealed that officers made the arrest at the woman’s home in Saint-Alphonse-de-Rodriguez.

The woman is thought to have operated a botnet, using a Remote Administration Tool (RAT) to take over victim computers and spy on their owners.

It continued:

“The investigation shows that the suspect used various methods to harass her victims, including by eavesdropping on private conversations and by communicating with victims through the speakers of their infected computers. She also frightened her victims by taking over control of their computers and by logging on extreme pornography websites. Her victims included underage children both in Canada and abroad.”

The Mounties alleged that the woman posted YouTube videos showing her actually carrying out the offenses – that is, remotely controlling victim computers and intimidating their owners.

She’s also accused of running an online hacking forum with 35,000 members worldwide.

The police said they’ve seized control of the forum, as well as taking computer kit from her home.

She now faces charges of “unauthorized use of computer and mischief in relation to computer data” under the Criminal Code Section 342.

The offense of “unauthorized use of a computer” carries a maximum jail term of 10 years in Canada.

The police urged users to keep their computers up to date with the latest anti-malware software, to never open an unsolicited email or click on a suspicious looking link, and to deactivate or cover up their web cam when not in use.

The woman has been identified by broadcaster CBC as Valérie Gignac, with the charges stemming from a four-day period in 2012.

Gignac’s lawyer is claiming that the incident was “just a bad prank.”

She has apparently been released on bail and will be back in court in June.

The privacy dangers of webcams have been highlighted before.

It has been reported that the FBI has designed malware to remotely spy on suspects through their PC-mounted cameras, while GCHQ is alleged to have collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk as part of its Optic Nerve surveillance program.

Then in November last year news emerged of a Russian website populated by hundreds of feeds from baby monitors, CCTV cameras and webcams from UK homes and businesses.

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