WikiLeaks has created a searchable database of more than 400 GB of private emails and source codes dumped on the Internet after unknown hackers breached into Hacking Team's systems and leaked their files online.
The database is proving to be one huge virtual can of worms for foreign governments spanning the globe from Australia to Mexico. Earlier reports have mentioned that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spent $800,000 to pay for software updates and improvements to Galileo Remote Control System (RCS), Hacking Team's proprietary intrusion software that allows its user to breach private computer systems in stealth.
However, the first forays into WikiLeaks' database shows governments that previously denied deploying surveillance tools to spy on its citizens or other governments were or are actually working with the Milan-based surveillance software firm.
Among Hacking Team's biggest clients are various Mexican government agencies from the state to national levels. Jesus Robles Maloof, a human rights activist in Mexico, tells the Spanish website Sin Embargo (via GlobalVoicesOnline.org) that various agencies have spent amounts between $350,000 and $1.02 million to purchase access to Hacking Team's software. Among the active accounts include Mexico's Centro de Investigacion y Seguridad Nacional (Center for Investigation and National Security), the Procuraduria General de Justicia (Attorney General's Office) and the state governments of Yucatan, Taumalipas and Durango. The Mexico Police and Mexico Navy also appears on the list of former clients, with their accounts labeled as "Expired."
Also implicated in the documents are several agencies of the Indian government, including the Cabinet Secretariat, Intelligence Bureau, National Technical Research Organisation and the National investigation Army, which are said to have channeled their orders through an individual named Anupam Tripathi, general manager of business development at industrial firm Semco India. The state police of Delhi, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were also said to have inquired about Hacking Team's surveillance products.
In the land down under, Australian government agencies are also said to have negotiated with Hacking Team via a Singaporean company called Criterion Solutions. The Australian Security Intelligence Organization, Australian Federal Police and the anti-corruption watchdog Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission of Victoria, among others, are said to have been in late-stage negotiations with Criterion Solutions. However, the firm has spoken to ABC Australia denying its involvement with Hacking Team.
The Metropolitan Police Service and the National Crime Agency, which is the FBI equivalent in the United Kingdom, also apparently negotiated with Hacking Team to purchase a license of its software for around $596,000, but the deal with the London police did not push through. A local police unit, the Staffordshire Police, was also mentioned in the leaked files, but the unit says its dealings with Hacking Team did not progress beyond an initial inquiry.
The WikiLeaks database has been up for not more than several hours, and there are around 415 GB of information about Hacking Team's affairs ripe for the picking right there, so it might not be surprising if we find out more governments have been in contact with the Italian firm to purchase its surveillance software. So far, Russia, Chile, Spain, Honduras, Panama and Malaysia have been exposed to be Hacking Team clients, and no one knows for sure which other countries come up as journalists dive into the treasure trove of information.
In an irony of ironies, Hacking Team, which is under fire for selling "lawful" intercept software to repressive governments such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Oman, was hacked earlier this week.
Photo: Alexandre Dulaunoy | Flickr