This is a post I wrote for Global Voices.
Human rights advocates across the Arab world are combing through the troves of data uncovered in last Sunday’s massive hack of the controversial Italian security and surveillance technology firm Hacking Team.
Hacking Team’s notorious “Remote Control System” has been used by oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Sudan, UAE, Oman, Morocco and Egypt to surveil and intimidate political opponents, human rights advocates, journalists, and digital activists. The Remote Control System is a pernicious form of surveillance technology that enables the attacker, usually a government entity, to infiltrate and control the device of the target. It can copy files from a computer’s hard disk, record Skype calls, e-mails, instant messages, passwords typed into a web browser, and even turn on and eavesdrop via a computer’s webcam.
Hacking Team technologies have become so prevalent in this realm that the company was named an “Internet Enemy” by Reporters Without Borders in 2012. Working with activists who have been targeted by governments using Hacking Team products, the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab has undertaken large scale technical research to better understand the systems used by Hacking Team and other major surveillance technology providers. Their research can be found here.
The company’s official Twitter account, that was also hacked, pointed to the torrent file of more than 400 gigabytes of internal data: Emails, bills, client lists, source code, contracts and even personal WhatsApp backups. The documents are also available on Transparency Toolkit. Continue reading “For Arab Human Rights Defenders, Hacking Team Files Confirm Suspicions of State Surveillance” »