UK leads international crackdown on Luminosity spyware

Law enforcement agencies shut down international support network for a hacking tool that allowed cyber criminals to gain remote control of victims’ computers

Luminosity Link, a remote access Trojan, that allowed cyber criminals unfettered access to victim’s computer, is no longer available, according to Europol.

This follows a successful law enforcement operation that was co-ordinated by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) and supported by Europol.

Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) supported law enforcement agencies in their efforts to identify EU citizens involved by providing analytical support and by facilitating information exchange in the framework of the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce, hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague.

The operation, which took place in in September 2017, involved more than a dozen law enforcement agencies in Europe, Australia and North America.

Luminosity Link was designed to give cyber criminals access to victims’ documents, photographs and other files, record all the keystrokes entered and even activate the webcam on the victim’s computer.

According to Europol, the spyware tool was supported by a network of individuals in 78 countries and sold to more than 8,600 customers via a hacking website.

This powerful tool was sold for as little as €400 and required very little technical knowledge to be deployed.

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Victims are believed to be in the thousands. Investigators identified evidence of stolen personal details, passwords, private photographs, video footage and data. Forensic analysis on the large number of computers and internet accounts seized continues.

Steven Wilson, head of EC3 said: “Through such strong, co-ordinated actions across national boundaries, criminals across the world are finding out that committing crimes remotely offers no protection from arrests.

“Nobody wants their personal details or photographs of loved ones to be stolen by criminals. We continue to urge everybody to ensure their operating systems and security software are up to date,” he said.

Europol advises that consumers and businesses should follow a few simple steps to help protect themselves from malware, including:

  • Keeping all software up to date.
  • Installing a good firewall.
  • Not opening suspicious email attachments.
  • Creating strong passwords.

More information on how to defend against remote access Trojans is included in Europol’s crime prevention advice.

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