HACKING TEAM YET AGAIN IN HOT WATER, LOSES LICENSE TO SELL MALWARE OUTSIDE EUROPE
Just a year after it was hacked, the Milan-based government spyware creator Hacking Team is in hot soup again. This time, it’s done by “The Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE)” and not by some hacktivist, the Hacking team ended up losing license for sales outside Europe.
Simultaneously the company CEO David Vincenzetti is being investigated for some of his foreign deals. The Hacking Team in question was frequently condemned by activists for selling its malware, the Galileo Remote Control System, to nations with lowly human rights records. Particularly the major criticism was directed towards sales to Egypt, Ethiopia, Bahrain, Morocco, Uganda, Russia, and Vietnam. In some special cases, such as in Morocco, activists and journalists claimed to have been hacked by snoops adopting the Galileo tool. Hacking Team also allegedly signed big money contracts with the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), raking in nearly $2 million before they eventually got canceled.
If the Hacking Team failed to retrieve the license it would be a huge setback for their foreign business, a recent report revealed that the firm sold its spyware to nearly every South American country, although, they do massive business in Africa and Asia. Separate licenses can be availed to sell outside Europe, but they will need to acquire for individual cases.
Hacking Team spokesperson Eric Rabe emailed Forbes that MISE revoked their global license but the Hacking Team still has EU approval, it now only needs the approval to sell outside the EU. However, the investigation regarding David Vincenzetti is a past sales scenario, in which every sale conformed to the rules and regulations.
The current Hacking Team fiasco was first appeared in Italy’s Il Fatto Quotidiano, which listed 46 countries which are restricted from the company’s sales, with immediate effect. The reasons for license deactivation are still unknown, although the Italian publication sensed some political strains in countries such as Egypt, where Italian student Giulio Regeni was recently murdered and the government’s investigation heavily criticized.
However, the leaks were a huge blow to the company and resulted in the open publication of Vincenzetti’s emails and other Hacking Team internals on Wikileaks, still the company managed to start operating again where it left off. The firm joined various conferences after the breach, including Milipol, a giant counter-terror, and home security expos in the world. Researchers also recently exposed Apple Mac malware that appeared to be a Hacking Team creation. Last year, Hacking Team filed its own legal complaints against six former employees, blaming them for stealing the source code. One accused Alberto Pelliccione, now head of Maltese security firm Reaqta, believes his company only sought revenge.
In this fresh scam, though, this could be the final blow for the company after which it could be sold off before shutting up completely, something they are fighting hard against.