Remember Hacking Team? It feels so long ago, but just this summer, some unknown perpetrator cracked up the hidden files of this little-known Italian company, and revealed a monster. This tiny organization was responsible for creating and selling malware and censorware to oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Bahrain, among others. In a new revelation, it appears that Hacking Team were also involved with yet another shady client — the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Buried deep in the documents that leaked this July, there are receipts that link the FBI to the purchase of a spyware suite known as RCS. This program gives its users the ability to infect targeted computers and smartphones, and listen in, even on securely encrypted communications. Hacking Team branded this spyware is “IT Offensive Security,” and positioned it as a new era in wiretapping technology.
It is completely unclear as to whether any of this is legal, by the way. The advertised capabilities of RCS basically allows the FBI to see everything that an infected user does — every webpage they browse; every file they open, close, or delete; any keystroke they type; all documents they print — plus turn their webcam and microphone into an audio bug. The FBI has previously disclosed that they have been developing their own in-house malware, known as CIPAV, but it was deliberately limited in order to comply with the Fourth Amendment. RCS has no such limitation.
All of this behavior is especially rich, especially as the FBI continues to militate against companies who provide cryptographic services for their customers. This signals to the American public that not only do law enforcement agencies not care for their privacy, but they will also turn to increasingly sketchy means in order to unravel it. I’d say I was disappointed — but frankly I’m not even a little bit surprised.
[Post image via Shutterstock]