© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A broken Ethernet cable is seen in front of binary code and the words ‘cyberattack’ in this illustration taken March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
By Zeba Siddiqui
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. authorities said on Thursday they seized an Internet domain that sold malware used by criminals to steal data and take control of victims’ computers.
The seizure of the site, worldwiredlabs dot com, was carried out by federal authorities in Los Angeles as part of an international law enforcement effort, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.
The site sold NetWire, a type of malware called a “Remote Access Trojan” (RAT), which is “a sophisticated program capable of targeting and infecting all major computer operating systems,” the site says. communicated.
It enables covert surveillance, creating a “‘backdoor’ for administrative control and unfettered and unauthorized remote access to a victim’s computer, without the victim’s knowledge or permission”, according to court records filed in Los Angeles, the statement cited.
It was not known how many times the malware was purchased from the seized website. Digital rights watchdog Citizen Lab said in a 2017 report that NetWire first emerged in 2012 and has been used in attacks ranging from credit card fraud to those targeting healthcare sectors. and the bank.
“Criminals have used NetWire on a global scale, and we have responded by dismantling the infrastructure that has caused untold harm to victims around the world,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement.
A U.S. spokesperson for the investigation did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
A Croatian national who was the site administrator was arrested in his country on Tuesday while Swiss law enforcement separately seized the computer server hosting the malware infrastructure, the DoJ statement added.
The seizure comes as US authorities work to improve collaborations with other countries to investigate cyber crimes, which often cross borders. A new cybersecurity strategy unveiled by the White House last week called for stronger coalitions with foreign governments.