Inside Darkode: a malware called Dendroid designed to steal data from Android phones

By MoneyTimes

Jul 19, 2015 07:50 AM EDT

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken down an alleged major hacker's forum on the Internet. This was announced by the agency through the webpage of the US Department of Justice's  Office of Public Affairs.

According to the FBI, the forum was called "Darkode", and membership was strictly by invitation only. Hackers invited to join Darkode exchange skills with other cyber-criminals, and develop malware designed to steal data from and take control of users' computers and mobile devices worldwide.

12 persons have been charged in different courts across the United States for crimes ranging from conspiracy to commit computer fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to send malicious code to racketeering. The suspects range from 20 to 39 years old, and come from different parts of the world, including Sweden, Pakistan, Slovenia, Spain and Miami, Pittsburgh, Opelousas in Louisiana, and Binghamton, New York in the United States.

Some of the more disturbing discoveries in the aftermath of the shuttering of Darkode are a software called Dendroid, designed to infect and steal data from Android smartphones, and Facebook Spreader, which turns Facebook users' computers into components of a botnet controlled by Darkode.

The dismantling of the operation of Darkode came by way of an FBI investigation codenamed Operation Shrouded Horizon, which is a 20-country effort to go after the members of Darkode, the largest ever coordinated international law enforcement effort of its kind.

"Darkode represented one of the gravest threats to the integrity of data on computers in the United States and around the world and was the most sophisticated English-speaking forum for criminal computer hackers in the world," said US Attorney David J. Hickton of Pennsylvania, who was part of Operation Shrouded Horizon.

Hickton was confident that the agency has successfully busted "a cyber hornets' nest of criminal hackers" which was long regarded as tightly-guarded, even by the hackers themselves.

"Cyber criminals should not have a safe haven to shop for the tools of their trade and Operation Shrouded Horizon shows we will do all we can to disrupt their unlawful activities." FBI Deputy Director Mark Giuliano added.

The agency has stressed that Operation Shrouded Horizon is still ongoing to catch the remainder of the members of Darkode still in operation.

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