‘Creepware’ on the rise, Symantec warns
Remote-access Trojans hijack devices, use webcams to spy on users
Digital security specialist Symantec today called for caution among data consumers regarding the growing threat of remote-access Trojans (RATs), malware that secretly installs tools similar to those used by network admins to control machines remotely.
Once the malware is installed on a machine, cyber pranksters can take control of the entire system, including the webcam.
"Many have heard the stories about people being spied on using their own computer or people being blackmailed using embarrassing or incriminating video footage unknowingly recorded from compromised webcams," Symantec said in a statement.
"These stories are true, and precaution against this type of activity is necessary."
According to Symantec, creepware programs, such as Pandora RAT, allow an attacker to gain access to files, processes, services, the clipboard, active network connections, the registry and printers. Some programs also allow an attacker to remotely control the desktop; take screenshots; record webcam footage; record audio; log keystrokes; steal passwords; download files; open Web pages; display onscreen messages; play audio messages using the text-to-speech function; restart the computer; and cause system failure.
To stay protected against creepware, Symantec recommends users keep antivirus definitions, operating systems, and software up-to-date, and avoid opening emails from unknown senders or clicking on suspicious email attachments. Users should also exercise caution when clicking on enticing links sent through email, instant messages, or posted on social networks, and only download files from trusted sources.
In addition, Symantec suggests: "Be suspicious of unexpected webcam activity. When you're not using the webcam, keep the shutter closed. If your webcam doesn't have a shutter, use a piece of tape to cover it when not in use."