An Australian hacker was arrested for creating and selling the widely used Imminent Monitor RAT (remote access trojan).
The RAT was claimed to have been created by the accused at the age of 15, identified as Jacob Wayne John Keen. According to reports, this spyware was downloaded by over 14,500 users in 128 countries, 44 of whom were Australians. Approximately $300,000 to $400,000 in Australian dollars were collected by the seller.
The Imminent Monitor spyware is distributed via email or text messages. A user can steal information from their targets by recording keystrokes, controlling the device remotely, enabling/monitoring the webcam, and many other methods.
In later versions of the malware, they also included options for “hidden” remote desktop protocol (RDP) access and even ran cryptocurrency miners on victims’ machines – a feature not normally associated with remote access.
Australian police reports claim the accused sold the spyware tool between 2013 and 2019, and its buyers included child abusers and domestic abusers. Keen sold the RAT for USD 25 (AUD 35) for a single-user lifetime license and offered it at a higher price to a group of hackers.
Over a dozen European law enforcement agencies participated in the investigation, called operation Cepheus. Approximately 85 search warrants were issued, and authorities seized 434 devices and arrested 13 individuals for using the spyware.
The six charges against Keen were laid earlier in July, and he is scheduled to appear in Brisbane’s magistrates court next month. In addition, his mother, 42, is also charged with dealing in the proceeds of crime.
The pair were scheduled to appear in Brisbane’s magistrates court on Friday, but the case has been postponed until next month.
The best way to prevent spyware from spreading is to ensure that it doesn’t infiltrate any of your devices. By doing this, you will save yourself the hassle and time of having to remove it.
These tips will help keep spyware from creeping into your digital life:
- Make sure your antivirus software has anti-spyware features
- Email attachments that look suspicious should not be downloaded
- Online pop-ups should not be clicked on (or blocked altogether if you are using a secure browser).
- Don’t open links in text messages from unknown numbers
- Don’t use messaging apps to chat with strangers
- Update your computer and mobile operating systems