Australian authorities have joined a co-ordinated global crackdown on computer hackers who use software known as Blackshades for sinister purposes.
Hackers in Australia, Canada, Asia and Europe have flooded chatrooms, online forums and websites in recent days complaining about their homes being raided and computers seized by authorities.
The FBI and federal prosecutors in New York plan to announce the results of US raids as soon as Monday (Tuesday NZT), the Wall Street Journal reported.
Blackshades is a remote administration tool (Rat) allowing hackers to take control of unwitting victims' computers, steal their passwords and personal information, launch hacker attacks from the hijacked computer and take control of webcams to spy on victims.
Victims can then be subjected to ransom threats.
Blackshades software can be used for legitimate purposes, including accessing a computer away from home.
The software was sold in underground online hacking marketplaces for US$40 to US$100 (NZ$46 to NZ$115).
An Australian wrote on a hacker forum how he "just got swatted" in a raid on his house by the Australian Federal Police and three laptops and a desktop computer were seized.
A Canadian told how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police raided his home.
"My son bought Blackshades and they had a warrant and searched the entire house," the Canadian told thehackernews.com website.
"They confiscated his computer."