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Top spyware company hacked, government client list released

By Greta McClain     Aug 7, 2014 in Technology
An estimated 40G of files from one of the world's top surveillance & monitoring technology manufacturers was posted on the Internet after being hacked earlier this week.
Gamma Group International, creator of FinFisher spyware, has offices in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. According to the companies website, the company offers products and services for "advanced technical surveillance, monitoring solutions and advanced government training as well as international consultancy to National and State Intelligence Departments and Law Enforcement Agencies."
FinFisher, which is sold exclusively to government agencies, reportedly offers solutions to help government law enforcement and intelligence agencies identify, locate and convict serious criminals.
On Sunday, a hacker using the Twitter name “Phineas Fisher” announced:
"Here at Gamma International, we've run out of governments to sell to, so we're opening up sales to the general public!"
The files were made public on Reddit after the hacker was able to gain access to Gamma Group's Dropbox account. Published were files that included a price list for FinFisher products, monitoring software and capabilities and FinSpy Mobile 4.51 release notes. In the the Reddit Phineas Fisher says:
"Two years ago [Gamma Group's] software was found being widely used by governments in the middle east, especially Bahrain, to hack and spy on the computers and phones of journalists and dissidents. I have hard proof they knew they were selling (and still are) to people using their software to attack Bahraini activists."
Phineas Fisher was referring to the July 2012 revelation that officials in the Bahrain government were using FinFisher to target activists. At that time Martin J. Muench, marketing director for the company, told Bloomberg:
“As you know we don’t normally discuss our clients but given this unique situation it’s only fair to say that Gamma has never sold their products to Bahrain."
However, an investigative report shows that the FinFisher malicious software was e-mailed to Bahraini activists. A report by The Economist also showed that the software was being used by the Saudi government to monitor anti-government protesters.
According to Zdnet, the leaked files also contain a list of clients as well as source code, along with a percentage breakdown of government that use FinFisher and other Gamma Group products. China leads all identified countries with thirteen percent, with the United States coming in second at seven percent.
Eric King, Deputy Director of the UK-based charity Privacy International, told Netzpolitik.org:
"In the last few years, a spotlight has been shone on the secretive practice of government hacking. This completely unchecked area of intelligence collection amounts to some of the most intrusive forms of surveillance any government can conduct.
FinFisher are one of the most aggressive companies to try and supply the worlds law enforcement agencies with such tools, but without public debate, and clear laws authorizing their use."
As the FinFisher client list circulates, experts suspect governments will begin to scramble in an effort to keep spying activities secret, or minimize the predicted outcry.
More about Gamma Group International, finfisher, Spyware, Malware, Surveillance