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Prolific hacker from Ohio indicted, developed 'Fruitfly' malware to spy on thousands

Posted at 2:37 PM, Jan 10, 2018

A North Royalton, Ohio man accused of infecting thousands of computers with malware to spy on people with their own webcams for more than a decade has been indicted.

According to court documents, 28-year-old Philip R. Durachinsky was charged with Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violations, Wiretap Act violations, aggravated identity theft and production of child pornography.

In 2003, when Durachinsky was 15 years old, he created a string of malware that would later be called "Fruitfly" and infected tens of thousands of IP addresses worldwide, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Once computers were infected, Durachinsky "used the malware to steal the personal data of victims, including their logon credentials, tax records, medical records, photographs, banking records, Internet searches, and potentially embarrassing communications," according to the attorney's office.

Durchinsky spent around 13 years spying on people from all across the country. Court documents say the 28-year-old watched and listened to people without their knowledge by hijacking computer webcams. 

Fruitfly targeted both Windows PCs and Apple Mac computers.

Authorities said Fruitfly could alert Durchinksy if a user typed in specific words associated with pornography. The attorney's office alleges the man saved millions of images from infected computers and kept notes detailing what he saw on other people's machines.

Officials said some of the computers infected by Fruitfly went beyond personal computers. Companies, schools and a police department were infected by the malware. According to the indictment, even a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Energy was targeted.

“Durachinsky is alleged to have utilized his sophisticated cyber skills with ill intent, compromising numerous systems and individual computers,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony.