Dozens of houses searched in hackers hunt

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As part of a worldwide crackdown on hackers, police in the Netherlands have searched 34 houses, among them that of a young man from Delft who managed the website of Blackshades. No criminal charges have yet been filed in the Netherlands following the large operation.

Blackshades is a software package that if used criminally allows users to gain control of targets' computers; it records personal information by intercepting keystrokes and hijacks webcams to make secret recordings.

Worldwide police authorities from 16 countries carried out 350 house searches and arrested 81 people; more than 1,100 computers, phones, hard drives, USB sticks and network appliances were confiscated, as well as money, illegal weaponry and drugs.

In the Netherlands police had traced a 19-year-old man in Rotterdam who had used Blackshades to gain access to no less than 2,000 webcams; after finding out about this man, the Justice Department issued an advisory to computer owners to tape up their webcams when it is not in use.

During the searches in different Dutch cities, police confiscated 250 computers. The FBI also worked to have the website of the 18-year-old man in Delft taken down. He has not yet been charged with a criminal offense.

Dutch police also entered the servers of the site to secure data that had been intercepted; it remains unclear if the entire website was hosted in the Netherlands. If not, authorities will request assistance from authorities in other countries to have the material taken offline.