Hacking Team hacked: firm sold spying tools to repressive regimes

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/06/hacking-team-hacked-firm-sold-spying-tools-to-repressive-regimes-documents-claim  Cybersecurity firm has 400GB of what purport to be its own documents published via its Twitter feed after hack

The cybersecurity firm Hacking Team appears to have itself been the victim of a hack, with documents that purport to show it sold software to repressive regimes being posted to the company’s own Twitter feed.

The Italy-based company offers security services to law enforcement and national security organisations. It offers legal offensive security services, using malware and vulnerabilities to gain access to target’s networks.

According to the documents, 400GB of which have been published, Hacking Team has also been working with numerous repressive governments – something it has previously explicitly denied doing. It has not been possible to independently verify the veracity of the documents.

The perpetrators of the apparent hack used the company’s own official Twitter feed (renamed to “Hacked Team”) to communicate. They continued to post to the feed for hours after, highlighting specific documents they claim come from the hack, such as emails, invoices, and even screenshots of Hacking Team employee’s computers, until the company regained control on Monday morning and removed the posts.

One such tweet, which has since been removed, purports to show Hacking Team negotiating with a third-party reseller to export its malware to Nigeria. If the sale took place, it may have bypassed Italian export controls. Another is claimed to show the company debating what to do after an independent investigation from the University of Toronto attacked it for selling hacking tools to Ethiopia, which then used it to target journalists in the US and elsewhere. The company has never publicly confirmed nor denied working with Ethopia, and in March this year a spokesman dismissed earlier reports as “based on some nicely presented suppositions”.

One of the now-deleted tweets from @hackingteam.
One of the now-deleted tweets from @hackingteam. Photograph: Twitter

The company has repeatedly denied selling its technology to repressive regimes. In 2013, a Reporters Without Borders report which named Hacking Team as one of the “corporate enemies of the internet” for its position as a “digital mercenary” prompted a response from the firm. In a statement, it said that “Hacking Team goes to great lengths to assure that our software is not sold to governments that are blacklisted by the EU, the USA, Nato and similar international organisations or any ‘repressive’ regime.”

But, if genuine, the leaked documents suggest that among Hacking Teams clients are the governments and security services of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, many of whom have been criticised by international human rights organisations for their aggressive surveillance of citizens, activists and journalists both domestically and overseas.

Most notably, the documents include an invoice for €480,000 which purports to be from the Sudanese national intelligence service, dated June 2012. Three years later, in January 2015, the company told the UN’s Italian representative that it had no current business relations with the country, prompting the follow-up question “as to whether there have any previous business arrangements” withSudan, the answer to which is not recorded.”

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