06 Jul Hacking Team, Which Sells Surveillance Tech To Governments, Exposed By Major Hack
One of the technology world’s most notorious providers of surveillance and intrusion software has found itself on the wrong end of an embarrassing hack.
A range of sensitive documents belonging to Italy-based Hacking Team, which is known for working with governments worldwide, appeared to leak out over the weekend, including email communications and client lists. The hackers, who remain unidentified at this time, also took over the group’s Twitter account, using it to post screenshots of emails and other details, as CSO first reported.
Hacking Team is a mysterious organization which has long been thought to sell tracking and hacking software to governments, particularly those in developing markets. The organization describes itself as providing “effective, easy-to-use offensive technology to the worldwide law enforcement and intelligence communities”. One tool that it is known to offer is Davinci, a service marketed at law enforcement organization that can purportedly access SMS, emails, web browsing and more to locate specific targets.
Last year, the organization denied selling technology to “any repressive regime” following a report from a report from Citizen Lab, but early leaks of the files — which weigh it at over 400GB — appear to show government contracts with Kazahkstan, Sudan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and others.
In addition, it seems that the company also sold software to private companies. That was something that it denied doing in the past.
Further email correspondence appears to show Hacking Team acknowledge that it supplied technology to Ethiopian authorities which was subsequently used to spy on journalists and activists, per another report from Citizen Lab.
In an apparent leaked note posted to Twitter, Hacking Team COO Giancarlo Russo acknowledged the potential that the client had abused its software, but appeared to bury any concerns around ethics by explaining that a flag had been raised by “two of the newest guys… who may be frightened by this kind of press.”