US seizes a website selling data-stealing malware

US authorities said on Thursday they had seized an internet domain that was selling malware used by criminals to steal data from victims' computers and take control of them.

US authorities said on Thursday they had seized an internet domain that was selling malware used by criminals to steal data from victims’ computers and take control of them.

The US Department of Justice said in a statement that was seized by federal authorities in Los Angeles as part of an international law enforcement effort.

The statement said the site had sold NetWire, a type of malware called a “Remote Access Trojan,” which is “a sophisticated piece of software capable of targeting and infecting every operating system.”

According to court records filed in Los Angeles, the software allows covert surveillance, creating a “backdoor” of administrative control and unrestricted, unauthorized remote access to a victim’s computer without their knowledge or permission.

It is not clear how many times the malware was purchased from the site from which it was confiscated. Digital rights watchdog Citizen Lab said in a 2017 report that NetWire first appeared in 2012 and has been used in attacks ranging from credit card fraud to those targeting the healthcare and banking sectors.

“Criminals have used NetWire on a global scale, and we have responded by dismantling infrastructure that has caused untold harm to victims around the world,” US Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement.

The Justice Department statement added that a Croatian national responsible for the site was arrested in his country on Tuesday while Swiss law enforcement authorities separately seized the computer server hosting the malware’s infrastructure.

The confiscation comes as US authorities work to improve cooperation with other countries in investigating cybercrimes, which often cross borders.

A new cybersecurity strategy unveiled by the White House last week called for stronger alliances with foreign governments.

The new National Cybersecurity Strategy focuses on shifting the burden of defending cyberspace for the United States to software vendors and service providers.

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