Stop right now if you’re doing something in front of your web cam that you’d be embarrassed by, because it could be recording your every move and feeding it to a private network of northern European hackers known as the “The Mary Pwankstas.” Computer security experts have discovered a hijacking program that activates web cams and streams the video to servers in Russia, which in turn make it available to subscribers. Word of the service first leaked when an Oslo, Norway teenager accompanied his older brother to a secret underground wine & cheese party and blogged about watching twenty feeds at a time on an array of wall-size flat screen monitors while enjoying a $10 bite of Nokkelost. The post quickly disappeared from the Internet, but news circulated of the sordid acts witnessed, leading experts to investigate.
What they found is a small program that installs when visitors view streaming video at certain pornographic and explicit web sites. Using a flaw in popular software, the program coops the camera for viewers on the other end, in some cases even able zoom and use other features of unsuspecting computer user’s web cams. Victims’ only hope of knowing their computer is infected, at this point, is activating their cameras and getting an error message that “the device is already in use.” The malicious program does not appear as a process running in Windows Task Manager or as installed software under “add/remove programs”.
As computer security experts race to create a patch, computer users are advised to unplug their cameras. Authorities are monitoring the Internet for sites selling access to the feeds but so far have come up empty, and are unlikely to be successful. “The Mary Pwankstas” are an underground network of hackers who have a private computer network that’s part of the “dark Internet” where search engines cannot go and membership is invitation only. The Pwankstas began in northern Europe as a sort of rental service for rich socialites with exotic tastes who wanted easy access to their perversions without the risk of being caught. Soon, kiddie porn and live S&M shows weren’t enough to satisfy the lascivious hungers of the elite; they demanded ever more audacious acts like mutilation, castration and extreme bestiality involving the sacrifice of the animal. One rumor claims that the Pwankstas arranged for a mass viewing of a zero-g sex on the Russian space station, and while that salacious sip can’t be confirmed, Pwankstas members have been known to brag about arranging well-known and ironic pranks like porn clips slipped into children’s programming and sound effects of vomiting and diarrhea mixed over religious broadcasts.
Groovywriter will keep you updated.