Laval IT security supervisor arrested on suspicion of hacking
Published Tuesday, July 19, 2011 9:50PM EDT
The RCMP arrested an information technology security supervisor from Laval on Tuesday morning for allegedly coordinating an international computer hacking scheme.
Joseph Mercier, 24, is accused of creating a virus that would allow him to remotely control and access computers on other servers. He was formally charged with unauthorized use of computers in a Laval courthouse Tuesday afternoon.
The virus turned the other computers into bots – short for robots – and very quickly became what the RCMP referred to as a botnet, or a network of bots.
The network was largely found in Quebec, but the RCMP says its investigation also found the network stretched to servers in Russia, the United Arab Emirates, France and the Unites States.
The RCMP says the virus was also found on computers at the company where he was in charge of computer security, as well as those of two school boards in the Montérégie.
"We're talking hundreds and hundreds of victims," said Cpl. Charles Vallée of the RCMP.
The technique allegedly used here is apparently very common among hackers. Victims unknowingly install the virus on their computer by opening an attachment on an e-mail. Once installed, the hacker can copy files and even record keystrokes in order to steal passwords.
Mercier was released on bail following his brief court appearance in Laval on Tuesday, and he is not totally barred from using computers while he awaits trial.
"He can't use a computer, unless it's work-related," said prosecutor Robert Jourdain.
The RCMP is now trying to determine whether or not the accused actually stole any sensitive information, and if so, what he did with it.