London: A FBI-led crackdown across the globe has led to the arrest of seventeen British men on a malicious computer program. The 'malware' named BlackShades allows a hacker to gain control of computers and webcams and view documents.
The product was illegal and it was being sold online for less than ?100. It is said that this malware infected more than 500,000 computers since 2010.
In 2013, the programme was used to capture naked photographs of Miss Teen USA from her computer in a so-called "sextortion" plot.
The National Crime Agency in the UK said that they have arrested 15 people in England while two men were held in Scotland.
Around 80 others were held in 15 countries including America, France and Germany, in a two-day operation.
The probe focused on the developers and "prolific users" of BlackShades. The investigators believed that the hackers managed to take about 200,000 usernames and passwords of victims across the world.
The prgramme was used by the hackers to infect the computer of the victims. It happened when users click on fake links in emails and on social networking sites.
After the installation of this malware, the hackers can capture highly personal information, or take photographs of computer users using their webcam and then used them to blackmail their victims.
The Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on e-crime, Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, said the operation "sends out a clear message to cyber criminals that we have the technology, capability and expertise to track them down".
The arrests in the UK took place in Halesowen, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Brixham, Manchester, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Andover, Ashford, Liverpool, Warrington; London, Derbyshire, Leeds, Glasgow and St Andrews.Further arrests abroad took place in Moldova, Holland, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Estonia, Canada,Croatia, Italy and Chile.