AFP Warns Online Users of Increase in RAT Malware Attacks,

Australia, Police

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has issued a warning to online users about the rising threat of Remote Access Trojans (RATs). These malicious malware programs are being used by cybercriminals to steal personal data and gain control over electronic devices without the knowledge or consent of the victims.

RATs are designed to covertly take unauthorized control of a victim’s device, allowing cybercriminals to access sensitive information such as online credentials, passwords, geolocation data, and files. The malware can also enable cybercriminals to control webcams and microphones, conducting surveillance on victims without their awareness.

The AFP has observed an increase in criminals both in Australia and abroad obtaining RATs and similar malware variants. These malware programs are being embedded into victims’ devices through various means, including email attachments disguised as legitimate links and computer gaming modifications or add-ons known as mods.

Once a RAT is downloaded, the malware automatically installs itself on the user’s device, granting the cybercriminal full control and access to the victim’s personal data. With just one RAT, a cybercriminal can gain access to thousands of victims’ information.

In April, the AFP arrested an Australian man who allegedly developed and sold a RAT called ‘Firebird’ to customers on a hacking forum website. This case highlights the severity of the issue and the need for individuals to practice good cyber hygiene.

The AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Goldsmid emphasized the importance of keeping software and virus protection updated, as vulnerabilities in old or unprotected software are often targeted by criminals. He also highlighted the fact that some antivirus software may not detect the presence of certain RATs, making it crucial for users to be cautious and take preventive measures.

The consequences of falling victim to RAT malware can be severe. Cybercriminals can use stolen data for extortion, financial crimes, or other malicious activities. The AFP is committed to targeting and prosecuting those involved in the illegal acquisition and use of malware, with a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

The article also mentions two recent cases involving RATs. In the first case, a 27-year-old man from Geelong was sentenced to a three-year good behavior bond after pleading guilty to RAT-related offenses. He had purchased an Orcus RAT online and used it to compromise over 700 infected devices, primarily targeting gamers.

In the second case, the Malta Police Force arrested a 27-year-old Maltese national for his alleged involvement in the distribution of the RAT ‘Warzone.’ This arrest was made possible through intelligence provided by the AFP, highlighting the international nature of cybercrime networks.

To protect themselves online, the AFP advises individuals to visit the Australian Cyber Security Centre website for information on what to do if they suspect they are victims of RAT malware and how to enhance their online security.