The Ratter’s sole purpose is to take control of your device so he or she can get up to no good; that “no good” is usually taking control of your webcam by switching it on.
They can do lots of others things too, essentially they have control over your whole device so can do things such as installing other software or opening and closing your CD-ROM device to try and scare you.
There are scores of very useful tools available for technical IT support, particularly for businesses and organizations, in order to keep the IT network up and running; one of these tools is the remote access tool (RAT). Basically this means that if you have a particular problem with your PC or laptop, technical support can log in to the device to sort out an issue without having to pay a personal visit. This obviously has huge benefits, but as with all good things, there is always a dark side, and this dark side is the world of the Ratters.
Remote access is able to work by installing a piece of software on your device in order that IT can access and gain control, and this is exactly the same with the Ratter, although this time it is by dubious methods such as coaxing you to download malicious software, often through a spam email but there are other ways too.
Once that code is on your device the Ratter can take control. What do I mean by control? Well, there is a multitude of things that can be done, such as controlling some of your software such that songs start playing, pictures appear on your desktop, your CD drive starts opening and closing; types of things that would be quite scary to an unwitting adult, never mind a child!
When the Ratter takes control of your webcam the video is streamed and recorded; the so-called “good” bits are shared with an online community. Quite how many are in this community is unknown, but suffice to say the posts shared between Ratters count in the thousands on various Hackers forums!
Let’s consider an example – a young girl in her bedroom, waking up and getting dressed for school, not knowing that her webcam is on and streaming the video – pretty sickening really isn’t it? To a Ratter, you are known as a “slave”, so you can understand the mindset of these particular individuals; furthermore if you look through some of the posts in certain online forums these people are so-called ‘teenyhackers’, in other words young people who get free and widely available scripts off the Internet and do it all for a bit of fun with little thought for the people they are scaring or exposing, or the devices that they are infecting.
Thankfully, for the individual (you and I), the solution is pretty simple. Whilst some software that the Ratters use is legitimate technical software, there is a lot that is Malware, which is a derivative of a virus. Therefore the most logical solution to prevent as much as possible is as follows:
- Ensure you have good, up to date anti-virus software installed, and ensure it is updated regularly.
- Be wary of dodgy emails that look like spam.
- Don’t download files from Torrent sites (these are usually sites on the web that are used to share files such as the latest music, films or games without paying for them. Whilst this type of file-sharing is illegal (copyright theft) the sites and files are extraordinarily easy to find.
- Watch your webcam light. If it is green it means it’s on. This is an important one as currently there isn’t a way for the Ratter’s script to turn off that webcam light. Not all webcams have an indicator light so the simplest solution of all is to put a sticker or a bit of Blu-Tac over the camera.