“Phony WikiLeaks Tricks Activist Into Downloading Government-Grade Spyware” @ Slate

Posted on October 16, 2012

Ryan Gallagher — October 10, 2012: “Western companies that sell government-grade spyware say it’s designed to prevent and detect serious crime. But ever-mounting evidence suggests their advanced surveillance tools are being sold to authoritarian regimes where it’s being used for political purposes.

In August, I reported for Future Tense that citizen journalists in Morocco had been targeted by a sophisticated trojan. A team of award-winning reporters for the Mamfakinch.com website were duped into downloading what appeared to be a Microsoft Word document containing evidence of a scandal, but was actually spyware. Security researchers who studied the trojan believed that it was manufactured by an Italian company called Hacking Team, which offers governments and law enforcement agencies what it calls “’an offensive solution for cyber investigations.” Hacking Team’s technology is designed to secretly infect a computer and siphon data, such as by spying on Skype chats, logging keystrokes, and even taking webcam snapshots.

Now it has emerged that Mamfakinch does not appear to have been the only victim of the Hacking Team technology. A report today by Morgan Marquis-Boire, a Citizen Lab security researcher, has found that a prominent activist-blogger based in the United Arab Emirates has also been targeted with a spy trojan that has all the hallmarks of Hacking Team’s shadowy product………………….”

Read more at Slate.