But true black hats kept their cards close. In this new black market few knew exactly who the buyers were, but it was widely assumed that many were governments looking for clever new ways to spy on their own citizenry. To his right was an oversize martini, to his left an open bag of cash. It brought a lot of attention to the industry. And, really, that was the last moment when it was socially acceptable for people to brag about their role in selling exploits to governments.
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At the time, Bill Marczak knew little of this. He was just another grad student, researching Big Data. Marczak was born in New York. His father worked in finance, moving the family first to Hong Kong and then to the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, where Marczak spent his high-school years. When the Arab Spring unrest broke out, in late , Bahrain soon became a riot zone, with young protesters seeking Western-style reforms facing off in the streets against government troops.
Marczak, by this time at Berkeley, watched with fascination as the violence unfolded.
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When activists went on Twitter seeking information on the kinds of tear gas and weaponry the government was using against them, Marczak mined the Internet for answers. He began writing blog posts, which in led him and two other would-be activists to start an advocacy group they called Bahrain Watch. Marczak studied them with a security researcher named Morgan Marquis-Boire, who worked at Citizen Lab, then known mostly for its work tracking Chinese cyber-attacks on Tibetan activist groups.
The Egyptian discovery suggested that Gamma, far from limiting its clients to those who targeted criminals, was quietly marketing FinFisher to authoritarian governments to monitor dissidents. But Gamma, contacted by a Bloomberg News reporter, denied selling FinFisher to the Bahraini government, suggesting it was using a stolen copy. A team of researchers at Rapid7, a Boston software-security outfit, set out to prove Gamma was lying.
It took a couple of long weeks, but in the end the Rapid7 scan turned up 11 I. In July , days after Citizen Lab released its report on Gamma online, a Moroccan activist group named Mamfakinch, which had published articles critical of the government, received an anonymous e-mail promising a sensitive scoop.
When Mansoor clicked an attachment in the e-mail, it downloaded spyware onto his computer that monitored his every keystroke and communication. Both Mamfakinch and Mansoor contacted security experts. A Russian anti-virus company, Dr Web, was the first to publish an analysis confirming that both of their devices contained spyware marketed by a Milan-based company named Hacking Team. Unlike Gamma, Hacking Team was well known in cyber-circles. Founded by two Italian programmers in , it had become one of the first sellers of commercial hacking and surveillance tools after its initial software package was embraced by the Milan police to spy on Italian citizens.
With offices in three countries, including the U.
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It insisted it refused to sell its products to a country blacklisted by NATO, but a Citizen Lab report showed that its tools were being used by the Moroccan and U. Then came an ironic comeuppance. The tweets contained links to more than gigabytes of internal Hacking Team data, including e-mails, corporate files, invoices, and source code. Hacking Team did not respond to requests for comment. Before Hacking Team, there was no smoking gun.
But though a handful of Hacking Team clients, including the D. Hacking Team, like Gamma, continues in business—and a booming business it is. It was just a month after the Hacking Team data breach, in fact, that Zerodium, a company whose C. A few days after the Zerodium bounty was claimed, Marczak got a message from Rori Donaghy, a London-based writer on human-rights issues in the Middle East, who had been publishing articles critical of the United Arab Emirates government for a Web site called Middle East Eye.
He checked with other Persian Gulf dissidents and found that many had received the same strange e-mail and had already clicked the link. There were hundreds. Each had a domain name. Checking the names and addresses of the entities that had registered the sites, he realized the information was all fake. So he checked to see if these fictitious users had created other sites. One had. It had created three domain names, all impersonating a popular Web site for Arab news and gossip.
Next Marczak checked who had registered these domain names. Most of the street addresses associated with the domain names were seemingly located in Israel. Marczak knew of it from a single entry on an Israeli Ministry of Defense Web site, in which the company claimed to have developed cutting-edge spyware. Whoever it was, he realized, knew what they were doing. By the time Marczak finished tracking Stealth Falcon, the following spring, he found its campaign had originated from 67 different servers and had lured more than people into clicking its links and loading spyware onto their devices.
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He also discovered that 24 U. Three had been arrested shortly after. Another was convicted of insulting the U. Mansoor had been imprisoned and beaten on the street, then had his passport confiscated. Someone stole his car. What got Marczak so excited was a U. In his living room, Marczak wrote a program that allowed his laptop to impersonate a mobile phone, the device Mansoor would have used. Marczak assumed this program worked the same way. Monitoring what was happening in the background, he could see what appeared to be the first stage of a spyware program uploading onto his laptop. Before it could do any damage, he severed the connection.
This was above his pay grade. To figure out what the program actually was, he would need serious help. One of his Citizen Lab colleagues suggested that Marczak reach out to Seth Hardy, a former Citizen Lab analyst who worked at Lookout, a top-shelf purveyor of security software that specializes in mobile phones. They informed Nokia, but the company would not take the problem seriously because it believed Bluetooth communication was limited to a foot range. Nokia was finally persuaded to fix the problem.
The ex-Hacking Team employee told FORBES the firm subscribed to learn about new intrusion techniques for its government-only suite, something leaked emails confirmed. But it's the little-known minnows of the cellphone interception game who're going the extra mile by selling government-grade spy tools to both consumers and nation states. In the late s, he took a surprising detour to bolster his fortunes by going into the spyware market.
With that in mind Alner acquired a new form of iPhone malware, one that bypassed Apple security to allow installation of non-authorized apps. He purchased it from a Vietnamese developer whom he declined to name Marquis-Boire believes it to be a development house called Tigi; Alner said that was not correct. Struggling to get the law enforcement side off the ground in the U. In , he pitched to Hacking Team, despite criticism of the Italian firm's sales to regimes with poor human rights records - Bahrain, Egypt and Russia, to name a few.
1 cheating spouse las vegas. most powerful cell phone spy and tracking software that lets you spy on ALL activities of any iPhone or Android mobile phone. Alner is the chief of a small malware merchant, Killer Mobile, whose Tracer surveillance tool for Android and iPhone has spread far beyond Las Vegas, all the way to Russia, a Forbes investigation found. In what appears to be an unprecedented spyware deal between American and.
After Hacking Team looked elsewhere, Alner spoke with a German company, Wolf Intelligence, which was attempting to crack the same market. It looked legitimate, incorporating all contacts, chats and calls from the legitimate WhatsApp account. The Wolf partnership also came unstuck, however, as Kumar couldn't secure any buyers; law enforcement agencies were looking for completely silent hacks, not ones that required user interaction.
Apple updates throughout also rendered the techniques used by Tracer all but unusable, Alner said. He said the company was receptive.
Alner has given mixed messages about his success in selling to national agencies. Whatever the truth, he still sees potential for expansion of his government business; Tracer has now morphed into FoxPhone , marketed as as lawful interception software since February last year. Though the company couldn't flog Alner's code to governments, Wolf did secure business elsewhere.
Kumar, a soft-spoken New Delhi-born cyber weapons dealer, told me he'd also shown off his cornucopia of spy tools - from iPhone and Android malware, to systems that can automatically detect and hack individuals using software to encrypt their connections - to various governments. They included Thailand and Malaysia, both countries with histories of repressive surveillance tactics. He didn't respond to requests for comment on the Leo Impact offering. FORBES also obtained Android malware and a BlackBerry spyware manual from another government surveillance supplier with Indian origins, Aglaya, which again can be linked to the consumer malware world.
In the last three years, Aglaya has tried to push those mobile tools and some more extravagant cyberwarfare technologies to government agencies. Srivastava told me he only sold to Indian intelligence agencies. But Aglaya's Android malware has links to one of the consumer surveillance market's biggest providers, mSpy. Marquis-Boire found that one of two Android spyware samples he believed belonged to Aglaya also received commands from a server hosting the domain mobilebugstore.
Visiting mobilebugstore. A quick Google search for that name and Aglaya brought up sites listing a Vinod Kumar as a partner at the Indian firm. Despite the links, both mSpy and Aglaya denied any business relationship. Mobistealth Cell Phone monitoring Software is your comprehensive and cost-effective solution to monitor kids and protect use of company owned devices.
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It appeared this was a solid attempt at a remote jailbreak, but not a successful one. Do you want to compete for huge prizes? Share to facebook Share to twitter Share to linkedin. The tweets contained links to more than gigabytes of internal Hacking Team data, including e-mails, corporate files, invoices, and source code. In his living room, Marczak wrote a program that allowed his laptop to impersonate a mobile phone, the device Mansoor would have used. They were guests of Howard Hook Jr.
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