Australian police are using ‘weaponized malware,’ WikiLeaks claims

And Australia are by no means the only ones.

Mar 1, 2020, 9:32 pm*

Tech

Rob Price 

Rob Price

Branches of the Australian police are making use of “weaponized malware” to monitor Australians’ communications, new documents released by WikiLeaks allege. 

On Monday, the whistleblowing website published a new cache of documents from the ongoing SpyFiles disclosures, relating to the German company FinFisher, formerly part of Gamma Group International. 

FinFisher’s products are “designed to be covertly installed on a … computer and silently intercept communications, such as Skype calls, emails, video and audio through the webcam and microphone,” WikiLeaks reports. The company’s clients reportedly include the Australian New South Wales Police, Belgium, Qatar, the Netherlands, Italy, and South Africa, documents obtained by WikiLeaks show. 

The documents released include these client lists, brochures, and manuals—as well as the spyware itself. “They are weaponized malware, so handle carefully,” WikiLeaks warns. 

Earlier documents release claimed that FinFisher spyware allows a computer to be “remotely controlled and access as soon as it is connected to the Internet/network, no matter where in the world the target system is based.”

Julian Assange, the founder and editor-in-chief of the whistleblowing website, said in a statement that FinFisher continues to operate brazenly from Germany selling weaponized surveillance malware to some of the most abusive regimes in the world.”

“This full data release will help the technical community build tools to protect people from FiniFisher including by tracking down its command and control centers.”

Australian politician David Shoebridge told the Guardian WikiLeaks’ new disclosures are “deeply concerning,” and that “information that should be privileged, including communications with a lawyer or information that’s well beyond the scope of the warrant, is almost certainly being captured by this warrant. It looks as if the police don’t have systems to exclude it, and it’s deeply troubling.”

WikiLeaks estimates that FinFisher has made as much as $61 million “through the sale of surveillance products.”

Illustration by Rob Price

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*First Published: Sep 15, 2014, 1:09 pm