Google Reveals An Italian Company to Sell Android and iOS Spyware to Governments
In its blog, Google has published a report revealing that multiple companies have been crafting and selling spyware exploiting mobile devices’ zero-day vulnerabilities discovered by Google specialists last year. The post includes code fragments from the disputed malware.
Over 30 companies turned out to create and sell surveillance-aimed pieces of software, with overall 7 out of 9 Google-revealed vulnerabilities being exploited mostly for the needs of government-related actors in different states.
Thus, being consistent with a previously made report by the Lookout Inc. security software company, the Google research shows that RCS Lab S.p.A. (headquarters in Milan, Italy) has designed infecting spyware for Android and iOS devices to be used in Italy and Kazakhstan by governments of these countries. Lookout Inc. has traced the connection between the Italian company and the modular spyware Hermit, deployed in Kazakhstan. Lookout Inc. stressed that despite reasoning about the benignancy of the pro-governmental spyware development (done by companies like RCS Lab,) in reality, such software often ends up in the wrong hands and is used to spy on businesses and individuals.
Google experts express concerns about surveillance capacities moving from being exclusively accessible to governments to being created, sold, and potentially used by private organizations. Such a state of affairs brings new threats and wreaks chaos into the digital world.
As for RCS Lab, the company states on its official LinkedIn page that it “has been operating since 1993 in the world market of services in support of the investigative activity of Government Bodies“. To decide whether this self-presentation justifies creating surveillance malware for Kazakhstan and, earlier, Chile, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, and Syria is up to our readers.
Zero-day vulnerabilities are the software or hardware defects that exist after the product’s release and before the issue of relevant patches. Vulnerabilities do not necessarily get exploited. That is why some of them remain either unnoticed or unused for years. Techniques, programs, pieces of code, and data items used to benefit from a vulnerability are called exploits.