Press Releases

Browse our press release archive

18 Jan 2005

Webcam Trojan horse suspect detained in Spain, Sophos reports

Eye
Spanish police have arrested a man suspected of writing a Trojan horse which spied on users via webcams.

Trojan is said to have infected computers around the world

The Spanish Civil Guard has announced that it has detained a man in Madrid in connection with writing a Trojan horse distributed via peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. The Trojan allegedly written by the 37-year-old man is said to have allowed him to steal confidential banking information from web users and take secret video recordings through their webcams.

A statement by the Civil Guard explained that they have been probing the case since July 2004 in an investigation known as "Operation Tic-Tac". The investigation began after an Alicante man noticed his PC was behaving unusually and reported his suspicions to the authorities.

The suspect's identity has not been revealed, other than his initials: J.A.S. Details have not yet emerged as to the name of the Trojan horse that the suspect is alleged to have created, but police claim that they have found evidence of computers being hit by the Trojan horse around the world.

According to the Spanish police, when they went to the suspect's apartment they found him spying on people through their webcams. The Trojan is said to have allowed the hacker to capture keystrokes, steal confidential information such as online banking passwords, examine personal documents and pictures - as well as activate victims' webcams whenever he wished.

"Viruses and Trojan horses are not harmless pranks; they cause real harm disrupting business and personal communications as well as often destroying and stealing sensitive data," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Computer crime authorities around the world are better equipped than ever at hunting down the perpetrators of hacking and virus crimes. Those responsible for creating malicious code should be asking themselves whether it's really worth taking the risk."

Sophos believes that there is growing trend of more and more malware spying on innocent home computer owners and poorly-protected businesses.

"With many home users keeping poorly-defended PCs in their bedroom, there is considerable potential for abuse. The message is simple - keep your PC protected against the latest threats with anti-virus software and firewalls, and if in any doubt unplug your webcam when you're not using it," continued Cluley.

Last year a 27-year-old Spanish man was sentenced to two years in prison for writing a Trojan horse said to have infected over 100,000 computers.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.