Hacking Team tells clients to stop using its spyware

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Hacking Team tells clients to stop using its spyware

Government spy ops could be exposed.

Controversial provider of surveillance software to governments Hacking Team has warned its customers to stop running instances of its notorious software following a large-scale and damaging hack attack.

Early yesterday Hacking Team had its internal systems and Twitter account breached and customer documentation published online.

The Italian firm - which provides surveillance software and intrusion tools to law enforcement agencies around the world - has been working since to limit the damage from the 400GB of internal emails, files and source code leaked to the internet.

Hacking Team spokesperson Eric Rabe said clients should suspend their use of its software - which includes the controversial Da Vinci surveillance tool - while the company investigates the effect of the leak on its customers.

"We would expect this to be a relatively short suspension of service," Rabe said.

The Australian Federal Police is listed as a previous customer of Hacking Team

Spreadsheets contained in the data dump suggest the AFP paid for unspecified, offensive-use products from Hacking Team twice: in November 2009 (A$126,525) and again in February 2010 (A$234,980) for a total of A$361,505.

The AFP is however listed as "expired" in the client renewal list.

It declined to confirm or deny "what may or may not form part of its operational or technical methodologies".

The force has long been a suspected customer of Hacking Team competitor Gamma Group, which produces the FinFisher and FinSpy spyware and and intrusion tools for law enforcement.

Control nodes for FinFisher have previously been discovered in Australia, but the AFP has consistently declined to comment on its use of the technology. 

NSW Police was last year outed as a user of FinFisher. The force today told iTnews it had not - either currently or historically - used Hacking Team's products, but did not comment further. 

WA, Victoria and Tasmania police said they had not used Hacking Team's software, while forces from Queensland and NT declined to comment for security reasons.

iTnews has contacted the Attorney-General's Department and Defence but is yet to receive a response.

Hacking Team's products allow government agents to monitor online communications, record voice-over-IP (VoIP) sessions, remotely activate microphones and cameras, and break encrypted files and emails if its malware captures the target's digital keys.

The Da Vinci tool earned it a spot on the Reporters Without Borders Enemies of the Internet list.

According to the leaked data, Hacking Team counts customers from United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt and Mongolia. The company has long maintained it does not sell to oppressive governments.

With Reuters

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