While groups like Anonymous hack sites to steal data and publicly embarrass companies, some people use their talents to spy on and blackmail their victims. Luis Mijangos falls into the second category, and today he was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in writing malware that allowed him to secretly use the webcams and microphones of his victims’ computers.
According to IT World, Mijangos is a paraplegic who created websites from his home. When not taking on freelance work he wrote trojans and tricked users into installing them, frequently making them appear as videos that the victim would want to watch. Court filings indicated that he, “read victims' e-mails and IMs, watched them through their webcams, and listened to them through the microphones on their computers.” He managed to trick one user into thinking that he was her boyfriend and convinced her to send nude photos to him. Once he had the photos, he took things one step further and began to blackmail her into sending him more photos.
These types of attacks are growing in popularity and have been dubbed “sextortion.” In January we reported that a California man was using personal details provided by Facebook in order to change the email passwords of his victims. From there he would search for nude photos and then forward them to everyone in the address book. These “spear phishing” attacks are difficult to protect against and are a growing concern on the Internet.