Hacking Team, Which Sells Surveillance Tech To Governments, Exposed By Major Hack

techcrunch.com | July 06, 2015

The Hacking Team is now being ridiculed and humiliated on the internet as the Hacked Team.

Hacking Team in Italy

The hackers get hacked. 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.

One released document shows an email communication between a man named Binyam Tewelde who is linked to Meles Zenawi foundation and the Hacking Team.

“An email from a person linked to several domains allegedly tied to the Meles Zenawi Foundation (MZF), Ethiopia’s Prime Minister until his death in 2012, was published Sunday evening as part of the cache of files taken from Hacking Team.

In the email, Biniam Tewolde offers his thanks to Hacking Team for their help in getting a high value target.

Around the time the email was sent, which was eight months after the Prime Minister’s death, Tewolde had registered eight different MZF related domains. Given the context of the email and the sudden appearance (and disappearance) of the domains, it’s possible all of them were part of a Phishing campaign to access the target. Who the high value target is, remains unknown.

An invoice leaked with the Hacking Team cache shows that Ethiopia paid $1,000,000  for Hacking Team’s Remote Control System, professional services, and communications equipment.”

Source: csoonline.com

hackingteam_9-100594945-orig

In addition, it seems that the company also sold software to private companies. That was something that it denied doing in the past. The hacked list of its customers:

Hacked list of customer of Hacking Team

hackingteam_019-100594965-orig

Hacked list of customers of Hacking Team

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.”

A further list, posted to Pastebin, claims to show the organization’s client list, which includes government agencies from Australia, Egypt, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and UAE. The Verge reported in 2013 that Hacking Team made a major push to lure U.S.-based clients, and according to this list, the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency had engaged Hacking Team’s services at one point.

Many of the security community may enjoy the irony that Hacking Team, which is listed on Reporter’s Without Borders’ ‘Enemies Of The Internet’ list, is being exposed so publicly, but there’s a genuine concern that if the organization’s source codes are indeed part of the leaked documentation — which experts are still looking over — then that could grant widespread access to some very powerful tools.

Hacking Team founder Christian Pozzi claimed on Twitter that the hackers falsified information about the company’s services and clients, adding that the company is working with police on the issue.

A further tweet appeared to suggest that the company is shutting down, but it isn’t clearl whether that is genuine or just a reaction to the outpouring of company information into the public domain.

8 Responses to Hacking Team, Which Sells Surveillance Tech To Governments, Exposed By Major Hack

  1. Didaa July 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    This is exactly what I suggested or put forward as a viable solution to such organized criminals and killers who sell spy technology to terrorist and dictatorial regimes like Ethiopia simply to get money at the expense of millions of innocent lives. My suggestion some months ago was to target this company itself and hack its database so that they learn what they have been doing and the crimes they have been committing to human being the hard way!

    They should be taken to ICC and to any pertinent court internationally as they have amassed a large amount of money illegally by killing innocent lives all over the world. They should be made accountable for their crimes on humanity.

    • freedom July 7, 2015 at 10:30 am #

      Obbo Didaa did you know the hackers and the people that own companies that sell spies technology live in the same countries and also that their governments give aid money to Ethiopia government ? To me it looks like they are getting their money back in different way. The only losers are Ethiopian people. Obbo Didaa who do you think rans the show @ ICC? There are 27 countries in ICC. China is one of them? Thanks to OPDO Chinese man has more rights than Oromo people inside Oromia today. Chinese man has a right to own land inside Oromia but not Oromos. Chinese man has a right to work and earn a living inside oromia but not Oromos. TPLF can take land from any Oromo farmer and give the land to Chinese ,Chinese is jamming the only Oromo media we have OMN as we speak.

      • Didaa July 7, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

        Obbo Freedom,

        I understand your points, however, we should not always look for favorable and risk free situations. All can’t be against us at one time! All are having some common denominator based on interest. We should work on how to exploit those situations that look superficially difficult and that are revolving around interest. If you put hypothesis as if the world is always against us and a conspiracy theory behind every action of TPLF-Western gov’ts, we can’t get out of it. If we can make Oromia a land ungovernable and inconvenient for foreigners, there is no reason why any country won’t consider Oromai/Oromo and its cause as a serious issue. As far as jamming is concerned, if we seriously work on creating sabotage, it would be the minority TPLF regime (that is totally based on false and closed propaganda) that will greatly suffer and lose control if we can work on jamming ETV or any digital transmission in that empire. By the way, this hacking team is located in Italy, the prosecutor who is behind Beshir’s case is an Italian. Therefore, we can look at issues from various perspectives.

  2. Lamuu July 7, 2015 at 3:49 am #

    “Gooftaan koo gooftaa qabaa jette,” jedhan garbittiin. Those who broke into the hackers’ server and got 400GB of information should be praised and rewarded for their heroic job and for serving justice on the world where there is no justice! This hacking team may fly to Russia (Like Snowden) to avoid Interpol’s follow-up for justice.

  3. Oromia First July 7, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    Whoever hacked the mafia company has done a good service for humanity. As Didaa has said I hope ICC will investigate this issue as one of the client of the hacked company a junta in Sudan, a rogue regime that has committed genocide.

  4. Tigre TIgab ayichilim July 8, 2015 at 3:45 am #

    they earn Blood money.

  5. Oromia First July 8, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

    The devilish and nasty Hacking company has release a news that acknowledge the incident also stated that their proprietary software is released online which could allow anyone to literally hack anyone. This is an incredibly good news as I hope the hacker community could make use of the software and specifically target target the customer of the evil company such as the genocidal juntas of Ethiopia and Sudan. The following excerpt is taken from the news of the Hacked Team

    “It is now apparent that a major threat exists because of the posting by cyber criminals of HackingTeam proprietary software on the Internet the night of July 6. HackingTeam’s investigation has determined that sufficient code was released to permit anyone to deploy the software against any target of their choice.”

    The linke to the news and company is found here: http://www.hackingteam.it/index.php/about-us

    • Didaa July 8, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

      Oromia First,

      Thank you for this info! Let us do something around this.

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