Computer Hack Suggests Estonian Government Agencies Use Checkered Surveillance Program

This picture is illustrative. (AFP/Scanpix)
8/14/2014 9:59 AM
Category: Sci-Tech

A leak of corporate correspondence to a hacker hinted that a suite of powerful surveillance software program linked to use in repressive regimes is also widely used in Estonia.

In 2012, the Toronto-based watchdog Citizen Lab, which found that the FinFisher program was being used against Bahraini activists, and in 2013, it issued a report that Estonia was among 25 countries that had "command and control servers for FinSpy backdoors," one allegedly hosted by Zone Media.

The suite of software, whose license price puts it out of reach for most amateur testers, essentially has the power to completely monitor everything that goes on in an "infected" computer.

On August 6, the manufacturer of FinFisher, the Munich based Gamma, itself fell prey to hackers - 40 gigabytes of internal documents were obtained, including customer service records.

Eesti Päevaleht, which said it obtained the data leak, said a brief analysis of the e-mails indicated that, if authentic, Estonian governmental institutions are making heavy use of the program.

The putative e-mails to Gamma from Estonia were mainly concerned with customizing the use of the program so that it satisfied Estonia's national wiretapping legislation. The user asked for technical support for a third e-mail program, the power to copy data from the user's external USB drive as well. The client also expressed frustration that problems arose when "15 targets were in the network at the same time."


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