RAT Creator Jailed for 30 Months, Fined $725,000 in BTC
Colton Grubbs, age 21, and a programmer from Stanford, Kentucky, was given a 30-month sentence in federal prison concerning LuminosityLink, a virus that impersonated a remote computer manager of a Windows system administrator, but which was in fact utilized by miscreants to gain a backdoor into victims’ PCs. The goal of the malware was to spy on victims computers and access personal data.
Grubbs confessed to the software being utilized for illicitly surveilling and remotely accessing computers without the knowledge or consent of the victims. The perpetrators then sold the acquired data to criminals via RAT, which stands for remote access trojan, and provided customer support through websites like HackForums.
A customer who purchased the software was able to either deceive his targets into installing LuminosityLink on their computers by sending them a link, or directly installing it onto the target’s computer themselves when provided access.
When the software was in place, it enabled hackers to keep tabs on victims through their microphones and webcams, steal passwords and personal files, launch DDos attacks, or record keystrokes, all while avoiding antivirus program detection.
When the investigation led to Grubbs, he attempted to conceal and destroy evidence, including debit cards linked to his Bitcoin account and other hard drives, that could incriminate him. He also gave his roommate his personal laptop, in addition to asking someone to take PayPal payments for the software for him (since Grubbs was prohibited from using PayPal on account of selling malware) all in his effort to hide evidence. All of these actions pointed toward his knowledge of LuminosityLink's illegitimacy.
The software was sold at a price of $39.99 to over 6,000 global users through a website that looked professional.
This website was part of what brought Grubbs down as its text tried to succeed in both ensuring that the software was deemed legitimate and while at the same time elucidating the malicious features it offered.
Robert M. Duncan, US Attorney in Kentucky, emphasized the importance of discovering, investigating, and actively prosecuting crimes that diminish people's confidence in technology considering just how much modern society depends on it in different aspects of their lives.
In addition to the prison sentence, Grubbs is now required to hand over the profits he made from this software which included the massive amount of 114 Bitcoins equivalent to US $725k+ that was confiscated when the FBI arrested him.