Computer webcams taken hostage to spy on people having sex

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has said that a cyber-criminal has taken control of computer webcams to spy on people having sex. Stefan Rigo, from Leeds, 33, used malware called Blackshades to control people's cameras and spent five to 12 hours a day watching what they were doing. The NCA said Rigo was addicted to monitoring his victims, some of whom he knew and some who were strangers.

Rigo was given a 40-week suspended sentence in prison, placed on the Sex Offenders Register for seven years and commanded to do 200 hours of unpaid work by magistrates in Leeds after admitting voyeurism at a prior hearing, confirmed the agency. He has also admitted offences under the Computer Misuse Act.

A spokesman said Rigo was arrested last November as part of an international operation that targeted users of software designed to take over, control and steal information remotely from computers. He said Rigo used his ex-girlfriend's bank information to pay for and download the Blackshades malware, giving him total control over target computers anywhere in the world. The software can turn the webcams on and off, access banking and other personal information, download new and potentially illegal content, and command the victim's computer to help commit criminal acts, for example denial-of-service attacks.

Adrian Beck, director of enterprise security programme management at Veracode commented, “With yet another case of webcams compromised by hackers, the threat of insecure connected devices to our privacy could never be clearer. In this shocking case, people's most intimate moments were watched, and the threat of compromised connected devices will only get worse as we introduce more and more smart products into our homes.”

The NCA urged computer users to avoid clicking on unknown links or files send via suspicious sources. It also urged anyone who thinks they may have been victimised by cyber-crime to report it to Action Fraud.