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Ransomware sting op yields 100 arrests in 16 countries

FBI-led sweep sees 300 properties searched, 1,000 data devices seized

Blackshades can encrypt data and disable machines so users can blackmail victims.
Blackshades can encrypt data and disable machines so users can blackmail victims.

Almost 100 people in 16 countries have been held by authorities in a sting operation to counter Blackshades, a prolific malware suite that steals logon credentials and personal data from infected machines, the BBC reported.

Blackshades is thought to have infected more than 500,000 machines in more than 100 countries since 2010 and in the UK alone, law-enforcement officials estimate that users of the malware have stolen around 200,000 usernames and passwords from computers around the world.

The malware works through infected links on social sites and emails, which employ the typical social-engineering tactic of claiming to lead to enticing material. When embedded, Blackshades can take control of webcams and steal data, or encrypt it, acting as ransomware by blackmailing victims into parting with cash in return for restoration of systems.

As part of the FBI-led investigation, 17 people were arrested in the UK and 80 others were held in the US, France, Germany, Moldova, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Austria, Estonia, Denmark, Canada, Chile, Croatia and Italy. More than 300 properties were searched and 1,000 data storage devices seized.

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