Photo (cc) by Mills Baker
A type of hacker known as a “ratter” is spawning faster than ever thanks to videos on YouTube, a new report shows.
And you may be a ratter’s next target.
These hackers are named after their favorite malicious software, remote access Trojans, or RATs. Once in your computer, this type of malware enables hackers to take control of it remotely.
As the nonprofit Digital Citizens Alliance describes it in a press release:
Your pictures, documents and personal information are all at the fingertips of the hacker, or ratter. Also, the ratter can take your “slaved” device and use it against you, turning on the webcam and following you when you don’t know it, sending emails that appear to be from you to your contacts, and even launching massive malicious attacks against hundreds of others.
DCA’s latest report, released Thursday, details how ratters use YouTube to teach more people to become ratters. The report is titled “Selling ‘Slaving’: Outing the principal enablers that profit from pushing malware and put your privacy at risk.”
Using popular search engines, the nonprofit found people offering RATs to anyone interested. In nearly eight months of searches on YouTube, DCA also found thousands of RAT tutorials, many of which include victims’ faces.
The DCA criticizes YouTube not only for hosting the ratters’ videos but also for profiting from them. Roughly 38 percent of the tutorials for the best-known RATs had advertisements placed next to them, the report states:
YouTube’s parent company, Google, is positioned to get revenue from the sharing of these malicious tutorials that target innocents. By allowing advertising to remain next to these tutorials, YouTube also provides another stream of revenue for ratters. Using the partner program, ratters are poised to get a cut of advertising revenue from Google.
RATs are often spread through phishing — sending phony emails intended to trick recipients into clicking on malicious links.
They also can be spread through media files such as movies that victims download from websites where a type of file known as a torrent is shared.
The malware is such a problem that the DCA report warns the report’s readers not to click on links on any of the cited YouTube pages.
How do you feel about YouTube and hackers profiting from video tutorials about RATs? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.