This morning, investigators of the RCMP Integrated Technological Crime Unit (ITCU), along with officers of the Service de protection des citoyens de Laval, arrested for a second time a Laval hacker believed to be at the origin of a botnet – a group of computers infected by a virus and remotely controlled by a hacker. It is believed that Joseph Mercier infected many personal computers in Canada and abroad. He was just charged once again with unauthorized use of a computer and mischief in relation to data under the Criminal Code, i.e. the same charges that were originally laid against him last July.
Joseph Mercier, 24, allegedly programmed himself the software (virus) used in the botnet infrastructure. With this software, he infected servers in Canada and abroad and took control of a vast network of computers.
The botnet allowed the suspect to remotely log into the computers of private individuals and legitimate businesses. He was then able to log keystrokes, copy computer files for the purpose of stealing the identity of users, visualize and record users’ webcam images, spread malware, and send out spam messages. All this was done without users’ knowledge.
While the botnet was mainly concentrated in Quebec, the investigation revealed that it also took control of servers located in France, the United States and Asia.
The investigation that led to charges against Joseph Mercier was initiated in December 2010. Mercier had been charged with the commission of similar offences in July 2011. Further searches recently conducted resulted today in the laying of new charges of unauthorized use of a computer and mischief in relation to data. Two suspects, one from Montréal and the other from Saint-Calixte, who allegedly acted as Mercier’s accomplices, have also been arrested as a result of this latest investigation.