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DarkComet creator kills Trojan tool after Syrian police abuse

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Updated The developer of DarkComet has quit further development of the controversial remote-access Trojan after it emerged that the technology was being used against Syrian dissidents.

Jean-Pierre Lesuer (DarkcoderSc) announced the decision to stop further development of DarkComet and cease downloads on Twitter, then provided a detailed explanation on the DarkComet RAT website.

Lesuer said that he wanted to remain in the field of computer security, and freeware software development, but wanted to stick to developing utilities that didn't lend themselves to classification as malware.

His (slightly unclear and spelling-challenged) valedictory note mentions misuse of DarkComet, and references Syria in explaining his decision to quit development of the utility, which he stated was originally meant as a child-monitoring software utility or for auditing computer activity.

Unlike what a handful of people think I never cautioned small/huge hacker groups who used my software wrongly, my goals always where to provide access to tools more powerful than any paying/private existing tool in terms of security and all for free! (For familys who wished to keep there eye on their kids or regular folks looking into acquiring some experience with such tools, users who wished to keep track on their machine any place in the world etc.)

Why did i take such a decision? Like it was said above because of the misuse of the tool, and unlike so many of you seem to believe I can be held responsible of your actions, and if there is something I will not tolerate is to have to pay the consequences for your mistakes and I will not cover for you.

The law is how it is and I must abide by the rules, yes its unfortunate for devs in security but thats how it is. Without mentioning what happened in Syria ...

A follow up message on Twitter on Monday more clearly explains that misuse of the tool by the Syrian security service was only one of the reasons why further development on DarkComet was killed.

Can people STFU about the end of DarkComet, well now its an old news stop bumping that old subject and claiming you know better than me why I shutdown the project, stop thinking its only because the Syria because what happened in Syria is only one of the reason (without mentioning that what Syrian gov try to do with my tool just fail as i react immediately so don't forget that), the major reason was that i was tired to code a tool mostly used by skidz.

Now i will focus on some more useful tools (free and not free).

Lesuer is turning his immediate attentions towards breaking down DarkComet and using its components to develop a remote administration tool. Source code from the DarkComet project, which has been running for four years, "will remain private and not for sale," Lesuer added.

DarkComet is no longer available for download, but older versions of the software are still in circulation and will doubtless continue to be available to both script kiddies and Syrian secret policemen alike. But the absence of future upgrades and the likelihood that variants already in circulation will be more comprehensively detected by security scanners as time goes on may force the bad guys to look for alternatives sooner rather than later.

A blog post by anti-virus firm Malwarebytes that provides a detailed technical description about DarkComet can be found here.

Adam Kujawa, a researcher at the anti-malware firm, told El Reg: "While the motivations of Darkcodersc were unclear, it is pretty obvious now that his software was being used for nefarious purposes, regardless of his attempts at keeping it as an educational tool.

"We applaud his decision to get out of the malware business and hopefully employ his, seemingly quite advanced, talents in other parts of the IT space."

Additional commentary on the decision to take the tool off life support can be found in a blog post by Symantec here. Symantec reckons Lesuer's decision to kill off DarkComet was motivated by the possibility of possible prosecution, a suggestion the man himself emphatically denies. ®

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