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NCA Cuffs Five Suspected of Slinging RAT Malware

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has arrested five people across the UK suspected of using Remote Access Trojans (RATs) to take over victim computers and steal sensitive information.

In a press release issued on Friday, the NCA said the arrests took place in Leeds, Kent and Darlington, with a sixth man from Liverpool brought in for voluntary questioning.

In an operation co-ordinated by Europol, 11 additional suspects were arrested in Estonia, France, Romania, Latvia, Italy, and Norway, the agency claimed.

The operation in the UK required the NCA and its National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) to work alongside Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs), and the Crown Prosecution Service Organised Crime Division.

“The illegal use of Remote Access Trojans is a significant cybercrime threat, demanding this kind of strong, coordinated response from international to local UK level. Suspected users of RATs are continuing to find that, despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and arrested by the NCA and its partners,” said NCCU deputy director, Andy Archibald.

“This operation demonstrates once again that all of UK law enforcement is working to respond effectively to cybercrime, and together we will continue to collaboratively target those who use technology to misuse other people’s devices, steal their money, or unlawfully access confidential information.”

The NCA also urged the public to do their bit by being more alert online and not clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited messages.

Chris Boyd, malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes, argued that RATs have been used “for some pretty nasty and tasteless purposes” in the past.

"This action by the NCA and its partner agencies sends a very strong message to those who thought they could evade prosecution and it's good to see such bodies working together to tackle a very real problem,” he added.

“People should take this opportunity to run an up to date anti-malware scan.  In addition, webcam covers can be bought online or simply covering the lens can help."

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