Research Teams Publish Details of Government Phone Hacking Tools

Derrick Broze
Ben Swann: June 27, 2014

Research teams in Russia and Toronto have uncovered new details regarding surveillance tools used by more than 60 governments around the globe.

Reports from Kaspersky Lab in Russia and the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs in Canada reveal various components of tracking tools made by Italian company Hacking Team. The spyware can take control of wi-fi, and gps; record voice, take screenshots and pictures, and turn on the microphone; view visited urls, address books, call history, notes, calendar, and emails; and log all keystrokes. The tools are designed to detect attempts to locate them and automatically delete if under attack.

The Kaspersky Lab found more than three hundred and fifty command-and-control servers created for the tools, in more than forty countries. With sixty four servers the United States leads the way followed by Kazakhstan with forty nine, Ecuador with thirty five and the United Kingdom with thirty two. Although it is unknown whether law enforcement agencies in the United States use the tools, or if they are used by other governments, however Kaspersky states that its unlikely for governments to maintain servers in foreign countries where they might lose control of them.

The tools are designed to be used with Android, Ios, Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices. The labs found that with the Android version a phone’s Wi-Fi function can be used to pull information off the phone wirelessly rather than using the network which could possibly notify the phone owner of a rise in data use. The iOS version only works on jailbroken iPhones but this is easily remedied if authorities run a jailbreaking program and then install the tool. Even with a password protected phone it is still possible for police to access the device if it is connected to a computer with the Hacking Teams main surveillance tool – the Remote Control System, also known as DaVinci or Galileo.

The Toronto team also received a copy of the user manual Hacking Team provides to their customer. The document explains to agencies how to create the system needed to implant targeted machines and how to use the software’s dashboard to manage data stolen from infected phones and computers.  The company recommends its customers set up anonymous proxy servers to route the stolen information from the devices. This is meant to prevent curious researchers or phone users from follow the data trail back to the command servers.

(read the full article at Ben Swann)

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