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

Hacker indicted for breaking into computers at CWRU and other institutions

Federal Indictment Alleges 28-Year-Old Cleveland Man is Creator of 'Fruitfly' Malware, Spied on Thousands of Computers Over 13 Years

"For more than 13 years, Phillip Durachinsky allegedly infected with malware the computers of thousands of Americans and stole their most personal data and communications", said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.

He would then steal personal data from his victims, including login details, tax records, medical records, photographs, banking records, Internet searches, and "potentially embarrassing communications".

Early previous year, a piece Mac malware came to light that left researchers puzzled. The malware would notify Durachinksy if his victims typed words associated with pornography on their computers and the hacker is alleged to have collected child pornography through the virus.

Durachinsky spied on thousands of people, plucking millions of photos and other sensitive data from their computers, while keeping "detailed notes of what he observed", according to the indictment.

The federal indictment says Durachinsky recorded minors having sex over a five-year period.

The current indictment does not list specific victims, but Durachinsky was arrested a year ago after a series of hacks at Case Western Reserve University were reported.

According to prosecutors, from 2003 to early 2017, Durachinsky infected thousands of computers. Unbeknownst to his victims, he allegedly listened to and watched their interactions and conversations by turning on their cameras and microphones using a control panel that he ran on a computer at his home.

Durachinsky's software was working in Macs whose owners were insisting that they were using an operating system which was more secure by design. But six months later, Patrick Wardle, now chief research officer at Digita Security, showed that the malware was still out in the wild, just not as widespread. It was initially discovered to be targeting macs, but he allegedly developed versions that could infect Windows and Linux systems, too.

"Durachinsky is alleged to have utilised his sophisticated cyber-skills with ill intent, compromising numerous systems and individual computers", said FBI special agent Stephen Anthony, who led the investigation.

"The FBI would like to commend the compromised entities that brought this to the attention of law enforcement authorities".

Authorities say a computer hacker in OH spied on people, companies and even a police department, sometimes using cameras and microphones of compromised computers to record young people having sex without their knowledge. "It is this kind of collaboration that has enabled authorities to bring this cyber hacker to justice".

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