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NCA Coordinates Operation Targeting Cyber Hacking Tool

Law enforcement authorities in the UK have taken a lead role in an international operation targeting cybercrime in the form of hacking. 

The operation was coordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and resulted in the removal from the market of a hacking tool that allowed cybercriminals to remotely gain complete control over a victim’s computer.

Remote Access Trojan

Once the Luminosity Link Remote Access Trojan (RAT) was installed upon a victim’s computer, a user could access and view documents, photographs and other files, record all the keystrokes entered and even activate the webcam on the victim’s computer – all of which could be done without the victim’s knowledge.

The RAT cost as little as £30 and users needed little technical knowledge to deploy it. The distribution and use of the RAT across 78 countries was managed by a small network of UK individuals who sold it to more than 8,600 buyers via a website dedicated to hacking and the use of criminal malware.  

The operation not only ended the availability of this tool but also meant that it can no longer be used by those who bought it.

Thousands of Victims

Victims are believed to number in the thousands, with investigators having already identified evidence of stolen personal details, passwords, private photographs, video footage and data. Forensic analysis on the large number of computers and internet accounts seized continues and the number of known victims is expected to rise significantly.

The case was investigated by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit and supported by Europol, and overall saw the involvement of over a dozen law enforcement agencies in Europe, Australia and North America. These joint actions were carried out back in September 2017, but details can apparently only now be released due to operational reasons. 

International Operation

Luminosity Link was initially discovered on the computer of a suspect in Bristol who was arrested in September 2016 on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act offences in a separate investigation.

Investigators developed more than 490 intelligence packages which were disseminated to law enforcement agencies across 13 countries in Europe, the US and Australia, including 160 within the UK. Since September 2017 search warrants, arrests, and cease and desist notifications have been conducted across Europe, Australia and America.

"Through such strong, coordinated actions across national boundaries, criminals across the world are finding out that committing crimes remotely offers no protection from arrests,” commented Steven Wilson, Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre. “Nobody wants their personal details or photographs of loved ones to be stolen by criminals. We continue to urge everybody to ensure their operating systems and security software are up to date".

If you have been accused of or charged with a crime, you need the best possible criminal defence advice and representation. The criminal defence solicitors at Thorley Stephenson have many years of experience acting for clients in courts across Scotland and have been recognised nationally for their outstanding expertise.


Thorley Stephenson SSC's criminal lawyers in Edinburgh aim to provide clients with a personal and professional service, with the best possible legal advice and representation on all criminal law matters. Please contact us today to speak to one of our solicitors about your case.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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