Brochures from the companies that sell malware to governments

Ars Technica has a small gallery of the latest Wikileaks dump, consisting of brochures from companies that sell malicious software to governments for use in spying on their citizens. I spoke at length with one of the sources for these and we agreed that it was freakishly weird and scary -- I've spent the past two months in a bit of a paranoid stupor as a result. On the other hand, I have seen enough product brochures to know that companies often stretch the truth when they're pimping their products, and I wouldn't expect truth-in-advertising ethics from vichy nerds that specialize in violating the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

One product marketed by HackingTeam is the Remote Control System, malware that infects computers and smartphones in order to enable covert surveillance. The company says that its trojan can intercept encrypted communication, including Skype voice calls. They prominently advertise the fact that the malware can be installed remotely. They say that it can scale up to monitor "hundreds of thousands of targets" and is capable of being deployed to Apple, Android, Symbian, and Blackberry mobile devices.

Gallery: how the surveillance industry markets spyware to governments


  1. My list of  “people who are Nth against the wall when the revolution comes” is starting to outgrow the constraints of a plaintext flatfile storage arrangement.

    Does anybody know of a robust, enterprise-ready solutions provider for keeping track of spook scum?

  2. I wonder what kind of sociopath works for one of these companies?

    [OT] I also wonder why Boingboing will be getting rid of the Disqus comment system, and replacing it with one that takes less than 10 minutes to log in and load up …

    1. Second the OT re:Disqus(t)

      But more importantly FOUR STARS to Cory D for “vichy nerd”. Doubleplusgood coinage if that’s a first.

      1. But more importantly FOUR STARS to Cory D for “vichy nerd”. Doubleplusgood coinage if that’s a first.

        Not a first, exactly: one hit on google from, er, Cory Doctorow

        Third re Disqus.

    2. Unfortunately, if these companies depended on being stocked with sociopaths, they’d have much greater recruiting difficulty and probably much nastier and more self-destructive internal politics.

      I suspect that they survive just fine indeed on a mixture of morally flexible executives, generic coder geeks who could recite the yuppie Nuremberg defense in their sleep “It pays the mortgage, and if I weren’t doing it somebody else would be.” Along with some not-sociopathic; but somewhat amoral, hacking enthusiasts who are just delighted to have a niche were they can break shit without getting sent to prison.

      Systems that depend on cartoonishly evil people are unstable because those are in moderately short supply, and don’t really get along well with one another. Systems that manage to deliver cartoonishly evil results by systematic and banal applications of Just Average Joes Doing Their Job, on the other hand…

  3. No Linux support! “Runs everywhere” my shiny a**! If they spend out tax money to spy on innocent citizens, at least they should support all operating systems :-P

    1. No Linux support! “Runs everywhere” my shiny a**! If they spend out tax money to spy on innocent citizens, at least they should support all operating systems :-P

      And does this mean that as a patriotic citizen, my duty is to switch to a commercial OS that my government can more easily spy on?

  4. i m not sure if we should be happy about the fact that high end surveillance and spyware is now privatized or not. surely it is better than governmental bodies which are even more secretive and dare i say it nearly impossible to infiltrate. though, i m sure the government’s own surveillance departments also buy and employ lots of the direct techniques and people used by these companies.

  5. It’s funny that this is news. Anyone who works in corporate security is familiar with tools like these for spying on corporate owned assets (within the bounds of the law). The fact that they market to governments, who are free to spy on people (within the bounds of the law) shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

    Why does it take an organization like Wikileaks to “discover” what’s freely available on the web to anyone who cares to look, or show up at trade shows, etc?

  6. I’m almost more offended by the idea of paying for my own surveillance than I am by the notion that a government would want to observe just how boring I am. 

  7. I wonder how hard it would be to develop an app that spoofs the system, giving them tons and tons of complete crapola to wade through.

    1.  Indeed, why even wait for the spyware, everybody should be voluntarily sending as much electronic gibberish as possible to these various “security” companies. Perhaps that is one answer, sort of like how military chaff protects vehicles, there just isn’t an app for it yet.

    2. Ever see those two rubber hoses they’ll put on a street that leads to a box at the curb, which they use to track car traffic and speed? Whenever I see one I make a note to slow down an extra five to ten miles during the week long tracking period and to use the street as often as possible. I don’t need a camera box here, thank you.

      1. On the other end of the spectrum I’ve seen people pull over and get out of their vehicle to jump on the hoses as much as possible.  I’ve always wondered whether it worked.

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