Murphy's Law: Hacking Team Hack


July 23, 2015: How do you deal with a company that supplies the FBI, many police departments and intelligence operations with hacker grade software? Simple, you keep trying until you hack into their communications system and then release all their email via Wikileaks. That recently happened to an Italian firm called Hacking Team. This is one of those companies largely composed of Black Hats (criminal hackers) who went legit and became White Hats (legal hackers). This sort of switch is obligatory in the West, which makes the White Hat hackers vulnerable to destruction (by media, political and public pressure) if their communications are made public. China and Russia don’t have that problem because they let Black Hat hackers operate freely as long as they do work (and do it well) for the government and don’t do any criminal hacking against locals.

Hacking Team is not the only such company in the West. There are others and they all prefer to keep a low profile. The other firms are no doubt double-checking their own defenses. Meanwhile the leaked email revealed a lot of other embarrassing details on how Hacking Team does business. For example Hacking Team always insisted that it did not leave a “back door” in the software they sold. Such a backdoor allows those with access to use the software to monitor what is going. But it was discovered that Hacking Team did install an emergency shutoff capability in the stuff they sold. This was not advertised and was apparently a safety feature in case their software went bad or was taken over by Black Hats. Meanwhile it looks like the public release of the Hacking Team documents will put the firm out of business.



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