YouTube owner Google has been called on to do more to stop the proliferation of videos stolen from people's webcams on the video site.
A ‘RAT’ – or ‘remote access trojan’ – is malware that is used by hackers to turn someone’s desktop their own playground as it gives full remote access to documents, pictures, personal information and even a user’s webcam.
Videos of the hackers’ unsuspected experiments and ‘Ratting’ tutorial videos have shown up on YouTube depicting disturbing levels of invasion of privacy. In the Digital Citizens Alliance’s recent report they describe how one female victim was left horrified after hackers manipulated her computer by showing disturbing imagery while she fed her baby - all while being recorded on webcam.
While YouTube’s own algorithm has taken down many of these videos, the DCA has called on Google to police their service better, asking them to consider their own company ethos ‘don’t be evil’ when judging whether hackers making tutorial videos should be allowed to profit through ad-revenue.
“Ratters don’t need any help getting victims, but they stand to make money from the RAT tutorials posted on YouTube,” argues the DCA’s Deputy Executive Director Adam Benson. “We found hundreds of tutorials with ads from well-known, respected companies. We can’t imagine that the money made from ratter tutorials is worth the pain and suffering the victims experience.”
Google has requested that any videos that breach YouTube’s strict policies should be reported by its users. But the DCA has questioned their reliance on computer-assisted attempts to halt the issue.
According to Adam Benson, the most profitable videos of ‘RAT’ hacks contained footage of young women being targeted, with many brief YouTube clips of the hacks linking to external websites that hid the remainder of the video behind a pay-wall.
The DCA’s report suggests that to prevent attacks from hackers and protect their personal information users should never operate computers using an Admin account, create a secure – preferably randomly generated – desktop password, have an up to date anti-virus software suite installed and to avoid emails from unknown users.
The prevalence of webcam hacking gained notoriety last year when US university student Jared James Abrahams was sentenced to 18 months in prison for hijacking the webcams of several girls and women to take nude photos of them. The case was brought to court when the former Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf went to the police after being targeted by Abrahams.Reuse content