The word "hacker" evokes feelings of panic and vulnerability. Regardless, aside from being somewhat cautious about the financial and personal info we put online, most people don't regularly think about people on the internet swiping credit card numbers or tapping into the FBI. People are much more apt to think of celebrities' risqué photos being leaked on the internet.
One of the creepiest computer hackers in recent memory, however, did not prey on the rich and famous. He was taken into custod in January 2017 for spying on everyday people by controlling their computers remotely. Phillip Durachinsky created a malware program known as 'Fruitfly' that would infiltrate victim's computers by hitching a ride on questionable links or sketchy downloads. What he chose to do with his unauthorized access makes him an anomaly among his peers.
'Fruitfly' Allowed Phillip Durachinsky To Take Over Webcams And Microphones
Fruitfly didn't just allow Phillip Durachinsky to take information. NPR reports that it also alerted him when a computer was left unattended, giving Durachinsky the opportunity to turn on the webcam and the microphone remotely.
Durachinsky could then spy on the person without them knowing, possibly hearing private conversations or watching intimate situations. He could then potentially save the audio or video files to his hard drives.
He Used Infected Computers To Hide And Spread His Malware
Fruitfly is a complex program that granted Phillip Durachinsky control over machines. He used this control to mine personal information, download data, and to propagate the malware. Authorities say Durachinsky would create proxy networks and servers by remotely accessing marks' computers.
Theoretically, if anyone realized their computer was affected attempted to find the source of the program, they could be led to another person's IP address instead of the Durachinsky.
More Than 20 Million Files Were Taken
When the FBI acted on a search warrant at Phillip Durachinsky's parents' home, they found several hard drives filled with other people's data in the basement. The data included over 20 million files, along with the Durachinsky's descriptive notes on all of them.
The file types included keystroke logs, medical records, financial documents, and other personal information, along with many explicit images.
Phillip Durachinsky Could Take His Victim's Information In Real Time
A computer with Fruitfly was monitored with a dashboard program on Phillip Durachinsky's laptop. He could monitor activity from several marks at the same time and was able to access data from the machines as well as information being typed as he watched.
The Department of Justice revealed that a key logger was used to see information being typed into websites, such as usernames, passwords, and other information. Durachinsky would then file away the data on his hard drives.
He Had Access To Schools, Homes, And Government Agencies
After the FBI was alerted to the presence of the Fruitfly malware program and began to investigate, they found it had been uploaded onto computers used in a wide variety of institutions. According to the grand jury findings handed down on January 10, 2018, Phillip Durachinsky's software was discovered on computers in public schools, colleges, police departments, personal homes, and businesses.
Local, state, and federal government departments, including an office affiliated with the US Department of Energy, were also affected.
The Malware Was Used To Monitor When People Watched Explicit Content
NPR reported that Fruitfly alerted Phillip Durachinsky whenever one of his marks was detected searching for adult material online. The specific keywords the software responded to aren't public knowledge, but authorities did find that Durachinsky had been sharing and allegedly making explicit material involving children as well.
Authorities say Durachinsky commandeered webcams remotely, which allowed him to record minors in sensitive situations.