A MAN has been arrested in Andover as part of a worldwide crackdown on a malicious computer program.

The arrest was made in the town this week and 16 others occurred across the UK in a co-ordinated operation.

The Blackshades software is able to remotely control computers and webcams and is reported to have infected more than half a million computers since 2010.

Eighty further arrests were made in 15 other countries across the globe as ‘prolific users’ were targeted.

Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Criminals throughout the UK and across the world are finding out that committing crimes remotely offers no protection from arrest.

“The unique scale of this cyber operation shows what can happen when law enforcement agencies at local, national and international level work together to tackle the perpetrators and help keep people safe.

“Cyber crime is one of the most significant criminal threats to the UK.

“The NCA is helping to build the capacity of its partners across the country and coordinating the UK’s collective efforts as part of the response.

“The commitment of our police partners in the cyber arena has been clearly demonstrated by the work culminating in this week’s dramatic activity.”

The software usually infects devices when links on external sites or on social media are clicked, as well as links in emails to view pictures, videos or other items.

Once installed, the software can be used to seize personal information stored on computers or even take pictures of the user using the webcam, which has been used for blackmail.

More than 300 properties were searched worldwide and 1,000 data storage devices seized.