It takes a particularly vile and nefarious type of asshat to spy on someone via their webcam, but apparently it is becoming increasingly commonplace – an alarming factor for people who don’t fancy being watched in their own homes or having their computers toyed with by a weird stranger!
One way that a person’s privacy can be violated is via a Remote Administration Tool (RAT) leading to people who adopt these methods to glean information about others or watch them secretly being referred to as Ratters.
RATs are legal and have been around for a long time. Many of them are used for perfectly legal reasons, to find stolen laptops for example, or by firms to offer computer assistance to their employees. However they also have a much more sinister purpose, as a means of spying on an unassuming victim!
In forums where Ratters go to pat themselves on the back and share tales of their exploits, advice is given for the best ways to avoid detection and the sense that they aren’t actually doing anything that wrong is prevalent. Watched women are frequently referred to as “slaves” and videos of people being tormented are bantered about.
This video, which shows a blonde woman feeding a baby on the couch while a Ratter makes her computer jump through hoops is one such clip that has done the rounds. The Ratter opens a series of porn sites and then makes the dvd drive pop open with a little message that reads “achoo”.
Infecting someone’s computer with a RAT is relatively easy and there has even been ebooks written with instructions on how to do this. Most Ratters use links disguised as popular songs or movies and place them on file-sharing or social media networks in order to infect people’s computers with the tool. Once in, they can pretty much do what they like with the victim’s computer.
In a recent article about RATs and Ratters arstechnica.com referred to the RAT as “the revolver of the Internet’s Wild West.” In the article Ars Technica writer Nate Anderson explores the seedy world of the ratter and the ways in which they gain access into their victim’s lives. Anderson’s full article is available here.