Hack attack

The maker of an ultra-secret surveillance software that is used by governments and police agencies worldwide has reportedly been hacked.

While newspapers all over the world were reporting the theft of 1.2 billion passwords from companies in the US and worldwide by Russian hackers, something else was happening in the cyber world, just as significant.

Gamma Group International UK Ltd., an Anglo-German company that makes FinFisher, a spyware that it sells to governments and police agencies, has reportedly been hacked. According to ZDNet, the 40-gigabyte stolen file has been dumped on the Internet and is slowly leaking its contents, revealing the company’s clients, prices and its effectiveness across a wide span of apps, operating systems and more.

The world now knows that this ultra-secret surveillance software can remotely control any computer it infects, copy files, intercept Skype calls, and much more. A spreadsheet in the stolen file shows FinFisher performs well against 35 top antivirus products, easily avoiding detection by Microsoft Security Essentials, for example.

The hacking of Gamma Group has an "Edward Snowden" flavour. Two years ago, it was revealed that FinFisher was being widely used by governments in the Middle East, notably Bahrain, to hack and spy on the computers and phones of journalists and dissidents.

At the time, Gamma denied any link to such activities, claiming it sells its hacking tools only to "good" governments, and that the authoritarian governments had stolen a copy of its software. But the anonymous hacker posted a note on the Reddit website: "I have hard proof that they (Gamma) knew they were selling (and still are) to people using their software to attack Bahraini activists, along with a whole lot of other stuff in that 40GB."