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.
- Photo: Mr. Robot/USA Network
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.
Phillip Durachinsky Didn't Appear To Be Financially Motivated
Phillip Durachinsky was able to watch, listen, and take from thousands of people over more than a decade. Though he had several hard drives full of financially valuable data and information, he never tried to profit from any of it.
Authorities suggest the hacker was more interested in voyeurism than making money.
- Photo: Mr. Robot/USA Network
He Used 'Fruitfly' For Over 13 Years Before Getting Caught
Most hackers think big when it comes to the number of computers they want to tap into with their software. The more personal information they can collect from different sources, the higher the possible payout from credit card fraud, selling identities, or even blackmail. Unfortunately for them, the more people that are affected, the quicker their program can be identified and stopped.
Thomas Reed of Malwarebytes pointed out that Phillip Durachinsky was uninterested in targeting millions of computers, targeting thousands instead. He didn't use any of the information he took for financial gain, either, keeping the program and Durachinsky off the radar of the law. By behaving cautiously, he was able to use Fruitfly for over 13 years.