The uncontrolled use of spy tools by government agencies has sparked a backlash as Greece makes its mark on a fast-growing market. The tangle is beginning to unravel with Israeli company NSO's Pegasus spyware and Google researchers have discovered dozens of small companies spreading their tentacles through the labyrinthine system with malicious bots.
As these practices spread almost across the globe, Britain, France and the US have – belatedly – stepped forward alongside some leading technology companies, signing a joint statement acknowledging “the need for more action”.
Greece, Italy, Spain and Israel are the champions
But the great “evil” happened when our country was targeted by the European Parliament and – among other things – accused of using “alleged threats to national security” in order to monitor political opponents of the government, citizens and journalists.
The news arriving from Google does not make us any wiser, but it adds another stone, bearing witness to the “fire” that has robbed the Internet of spyware. The tech giant has revealed that companies from Greece, Italy, Spain and Israel have been selling mobile phone tracking software for a decade.
The findings by Alphabet Inc (owner of Google) are important because the tech giant has a dominant position in the Internet sphere due to its wide scope of participation.
“Demand from government agencies remains strong, and our findings highlight the extent to which commercial spyware vendors are deploying hacking and spyware capabilities, weakening cybersecurity for everyone,” said researchers from the threat-hunting group TAG.
Companies that have fallen on Google's radar
Google's report was released last Tuesday, and at the top of the list is the Israeli company NSO, which created the Pegasus software, which has been found on the devices of many people around the world, including human rights activists.
NSO, Cy4Gate, RCS Labs, Negg Group, Variston, Intellexa
According to Reuters, the puzzle was completed by the Italian companies Cy4Gate and RCS Labs, the lesser-known Italian company Negg Group, and the Spanish company Variston. Naturally, the Greek company Intellexa, linked to the Predator plane and the wiretapping case that shocked the whole of Greece, was also included.
Negg Group's website says the company is focused on cybersecurity, but Google says its software has been found to have been used to spy on people in Italy, Malaysia and Kazakhstan.
Variston created software that infects users' devices through Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox browsers or iOS apps, Google said, adding that another company, Protected – known as Protect Electronic Systems – used a similar trapping technique.
Reuters asked the five companies to comment, but they did not respond or were not available.
Bill from USA
It should be noted that Google's report comes a day after the United States announced a new policy to restrict the issuance of visas to people involved in the misuse of commercial spyware.
“The United States remains concerned about the increasing misuse of commercial spyware around the world to facilitate repression, limit the free flow of information, and potentially violate human rights. The misuse of commercial spyware threatens privacy and the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. This has been linked to Targeting for arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions in the most horrific cases. In addition, the misuse of these tools poses a threat to the security and intelligence of American personnel. The US State Department said in a statement that the United States stands for human rights and fundamental freedoms and will continue to promote accountability for those involved. In the misuse of commercial spyware.
When the United States refers to the misuse of commercial spyware, it also refers to Predator software and companies like Cytrox and Intellexa.
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