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Australian Police Alert: Protect Devices from Increasing Malware Threats

Jun 9, 2024

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has issued a warning to online users to take measures to protect their personal data following a recent surge in cybercriminals deploying Remote Access Trojans (RATs). These malicious software tools allow unauthorized control over a victim’s device, enabling criminals to steal sensitive information and conduct surveillance without the victim’s knowledge.

RATs can infiltrate devices through various methods, including email attachments disguised as legitimate links and modifications for computer video games, known as mods. Once installed, RATs can grant cybercriminals access to webcams, microphones, online credentials, passwords, geolocation data, files, and browsing history.

Remote Access Trojan (RAT) - CyberHoot

AFP intelligence has identified both domestic and international actors actively obtaining RATs to embed these viruses in victims’ devices. In April, the AFP charged an Australian man for allegedly developing and selling a RAT called ‘Firebird’ on a hacking forum.

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Goldsmid highlighted the increasing threat posed by cybercriminals exploiting RATs. “These viruses, known as RATs, are the tools of cybercriminals and are built to spread and takeover a victim’s device, just like a plague,” he said Sunday. Goldsmid emphasized the importance of practicing good cyber hygiene and keeping software and virus protection updated to defend against these threats.

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The dangers of RATs are compounded by their ability to evade some antivirus software, making it difficult for users to detect infections. This can lead to severe consequences, including data theft and extortion. The AFP says it remains committed to prosecuting those using RATs for illegal purposes, with potential penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

In a notable case, a 27-year-old man from Geelong was sentenced to a three-year good behavior bond after pleading guilty to five RAT-related offences. He had embedded a RAT in computer game mods to steal data from over 700 infected devices.

In another incident, the Malta Police Force, following AFP intelligence, arrested a 27-year-old Maltese national in February for distributing the RAT ‘Warzone’ as part of an international cybercrime network.

The AFP advises anyone who suspects they are a victim of RAT malware to seek information and protection strategies at

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