A new government malware company, fronted by Hacking Team's old spokesjerk, says it can spy on Signal and Telegram

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/07/hacking-team-2-1.html

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Another one for the “banal art assets correlated with evil” pile.


Hello, White Buffalo. May I suggest a new target for your “special attentions”?

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I wonder where they find the coders for this. Ever single one I know would become violent at the suggestion they do this. The only ones I know who’d accept are those with some sort of insane plan to ruin it from the inside.

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Money, autism spectrum and hate/disappointment.

If you’re good at your craft, good enough to find these exploits; if you’re on the spectrum and find yourself alone and/or not being paid enough or passed over or not getting the raises/promotions you do [objectively?] deserve … then getting a lot of money for this kind of thing is almost understandable.

And then there’s the 4chan ‘watch-the-world-burn’ type who just wants the cash.

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I’m glad that they aren’t advertising a vulnerability in the encryption. The double-ratchet algorithm was an innovation of Open Whisper Systems, the same people who later made Signal, and is also the basis of OMEMO encryption for XMPP.

The fact that somebody is advertising an endpoint exploit means that there is yet no obvious or cheap way to break the encryption.

I’d imagine that there is a supply to be found among the more lawful evil, nationalistic, or just plain afraid of going to prison, segments of the (apparently large and effective if the constant reports of their activities are anything to go by) pool of people who engage in commercially motivated cybercrime. Many of those are probably a bad fit for direct hiring by stodgy goverment agencies that frown on records of youthful misbehavior and recreational drug use and have irksome dress codes and working hours; but none of that applies to the people working for the contractor you are buying from.

Same type of work; but with the major bonus that the people who might otherwise be trying to arrest you are the ones buying your stuff. In some cases they might even pay better(or be less likely to pirate and resell your exploits); but certainly less legal exposure.

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