Burglars get burgled, muggers get mugged, and hackers get hacked. This includes a sophisticated ring of hackers: Hacking Team, hailing from Italy, specializing in selling hacking software to major governments.
An article on wired.com describes how a “400 gigabyte trove” went online by anonymous hackers who gutted the Hacking Team, including source code. Even their Twitter feed was hacked, and the secret hackers tweeted HT’s cracked files.
One of the exposed files apparently was a list of HT’s customer information, spanning the Middle East, Africa and the U.S.
Hacking Team must really be the Humiliated Team now, because they refused to respond to WIRED’s request for a comment. However, one of HT’s workers tweeted that their mystery hackers were spreading lies. His tweet was then hacked.
Sudan was one of the customers, and this shows that Hacking Team believed it could sell hacking software to any government, as Sudan is noted for its ultra-high restrictions to access.
Can the selling of hacking software be equated to the sales of weapons of mass destruction? More likely this is so than not. There is an arms control pact, the Wassenaar Agreement, designed to control the sales internationally of hacking tools.
Criticisms of the Wassenaar Agreement come from hackers (not necessarily only the bad ones) because the Agreement limits security research.
Eric King, from Privacy International, points out that the Agreement is required. Wired.com quotes him: “Some form of regulation is needed to prevent these companies from selling to human rights abusers.”
The Hacking Team organization, despite what it insists, should not be considered a “good guy.” For example, Citizen Lab uncovered that customers, including the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, used tools from Hacking Team to spy on a political dissident—who just happened subsequently get beaten up.
Eric King says, as quoted in wired.com, that Hacking Team “has continuously thrown mud, obfuscated, tried to confuse the truth.” The hacking of Hacking Team will help reveal the truth behind their “deviousness and duplicity in responding to what are legitimate criticisms,” says King.