CYBER SECURITYNews

Google and Apple raise concerns over an Italian spyware sold to governments


Google and Apple have voiced their concerns over the increased use of spyware for their Android and Apple smartphones.

A report released by Google’s parent company Alphabet on Thursday revealed that an Italian company had developed hacking tools that were used to spy on Apple and Android smartphones in Italy and Kazakhstan.

The spyware was developed by Milan-based RCS lab which claims that its tools are used by European law enforcement agencies.

“These vendors are enabling the proliferation of dangerous hacking tools and arming governments that would not be able to develop these capabilities in-house,” Google said.

Google’s findings come at a time when the industry is contemplating putting in place more laws to regulate the sale and import of spyware.

One of the world’s most renowned spyware is Pegasus, developed by Israeli firm NSO. It has been found to have been used by multiple governments to spy on journalists, activists and those considered dissidents.

The hacking tool from RCS may not be as stealthy as Pegasus but still has the potential to read messages and view passwords, a security researcher told Reuters.

Research by Google revealed RCS Lad had previously worked closely with the now-defunct Italian spy firm Hacking Team, a spyware company that had developed surveillance tools used by foreign governments to tap into phones and computers.

Hacking Team eventually became a victim of a major hack in 2015. This event led to a disclosure of numerous internal documents that put to light its activities.

More companies are developing interception tools with law enforcement agencies as their major clients. Anti-surveillance groups have accused these companies of aiding governments to violate human rights and civil rights.

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