Aussie Teenager’s Spyware Hacked Into Domestic Violence Victims’ Computers

Published: 03 August 2022

Trojan-Horse-Virus-RemoverA trojan virus, like the deceptive wooden horse of Troy, can attack an unsuspecting victim under the guise of a legitimate program - usually packaged within a phishing email or text. (Photo: Starkus01, Wikimedia, License)

By Inci Sayki

Australian police say they arrested a 24-year-old man for allegedly creating and selling hacking tool used by domestic violence perpetrators and child sex offenders to spy on unsuspecting victims.

Jacob Wayne John Keen was 15 when he allegedly created a remote access trojan (RAT), which once installed on a victim’s computer, usually via phishing scams, could give the intruder control over the infected computer; steal their personal information or spy on them by turning on webcams and microphones – all without their knowledge.

Keen allegedly sold the sly software, named Imminent Monitor, for AUD $35 (US$25) on a hacking forum to more than 14,500 people in 128 countries, bringing in between $300,000 and $400,000. He then used the proceeds to buy takeout food.

While it was not unlawful to purchase the trojan virus, it is a crime to install it on a victim’s computer without their consent, said the police statement.

According to the Australian police, a “statistically high” number of the 201 identified Australia-based purchasers of the virus were also listed as respondents on domestic violence orders.

Additionally, one of the purchasers was registered as a child sex offender.

Keen is due to appear at Brisbane’s magistrates court on August 19th to face six charges for his alleged role in the RAT scheme.

Keen administered the trojan virus from 2013 until it was taken down by authorities in 2019. The shutdown was prompted by an investigation launched in 2017, when the FBI and a California-based cybersecurity company tipped the Australian authorities of a suspicious RAT malware.

The tip sparked international operations, including over a dozen law enforcement agencies in Europe, resulting in over 400 devices seized and 13 RAT users arrested globally.

The police identified 44 victims in Australia, and postulates that there were tens of thousands of victims globally.