Wikileaks Release Indicates Hacking Team's Connection With Australian Agencies

By @Shayani92 on
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IN PHOTO: A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds a placard during a gathering outside the Ecuador embassy in London, Britain June 19, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

According to leaked emails published by Wikileaks, Australian Federal Police, spy agency ASIO and Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog IBAC have been in talks with an Italian based hacking team secretly. ABC reported that this might be a step to help states like Sudan, which are under oppressive government to spy on their citizens.

The emails flashed after the hacking team had fallen victim to a notorious cyber attack where it lost almost 440 gigabytes of internal data, which was uploaded on the internet. The growing intrusion been criticised by international agencies for providing important domestic data to such states.

The hacking team is believed to have been working by installing malicious software on mobile phones or computer to get easy access to the targeted person. The software used is run by Remote Control System (RCS) that has the power to send back data collected for analysis. It could access and obtain data from personal mails, messages and other apps used for communicating leaving the option of encryption useless.

The leaked emails showed that Victoria's Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) was planning to sign a contract with the Hacking Team worth AU$668493.96 nearly two weeks ago. In May, the Hacking Team’s flagship was demonstrated live to IBAC. It also revealed how IBAC’s Electronic Collections Unit had negotiated over a licence in order to access the surveillance tools last month.

Last year, a Canberra company called Criterion Solutions had signed a non-disclosure agreement about the RCS program which was reported to be one of the representatives of ASIO. ABC news reported to have made attempts to contact the security agency but failed to obtain any kind of response. Invoices from the leaked transactions indicted Australian Federal Police to be one of the clients of Hacking team dealing with “offensive spyware products” worth AU$363040.14. However, data showed it was under the contract till 2011.

In the National Security Conference in Sydney in 2014, the team exposed its “offensive technologies” to the officials of the country. None of the agencies that were found to be linked were available for any comments.  However, a representative of IBAC confirmed that it was never a client of such organisation.

The leak of 440 gigabytes data has left the Hacking Team shocked. It has exposed clients and codes needed for accessing interception technologies. The chief marketing and communications officer for Hacking Team, Eric Rabe condemned the criminal attack saying it was “reckless and dangerous.” He expressed his frustration over such misuse of power and disregard to public safety.

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been found to be investigating the established links between the government of Sudan and the Hacking Team. UN sanctions are already imposed on the repressive government of Sudan for misconduct and human rights abuses. On being interviewed by an ABC representative, Mr. Rabe dismissed all the charges of intrusion.

Matthew Rice from Privacy International expressed his discontentment over the issue and confirmed that 46 countries were together in this offensive act. Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain are among them. He said the government must make efforts to ensure domestic integrity.

Contact the writer on priya.shayani@gmail.com