From unmemorable times always the governments have trying to collect intelligence information about people problematic for them within same folks. But this always was an “in house business” where the own government develop itself tools and procedures to accomplish the task; until now when the ‘iSpyU’ business can be outsourced by anyone thanks to products like the FinFisher Suite.
FinFisher is a remote intrusion and surveillance software developed by Munich-based Gamma International GmbH and marketed and sold exclusively to law enforcement and intelligence agencies by the UK-based Gamma Group.
FinFisher is sold as a “lawful interception” suite for monitoring criminals, but it has gained notoriety because it has been used by repressive governments in targeted attacks against human rights campaigners and opposition activists in countries with questionable human rights records like Bahraini, Ethiopia, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, etc.
The major information about FinFisher came from The Citizen Lab that is a laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Canada and it focus on advanced research and development at the intersection of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), human rights, and global security.
As information leaked and collected from the deep web “Spy your opponents” is not cheap, and the suggested “tag price” for FinFisher products (including a full set of attack software, booby-trapped thumb drives and nearly a dozen different training courses) retailed for some 3.5 million dollars (3 million Euros)
FinFisher provide the follow spy feature on target devices (computers, cellphones):
- Bypassing of 40 regularly tested Antivirus Systems
- Covert Communication with Headquarters
- Full communications monitoring (Calls, Video, Contact List, etc.)
- Recording of common communication like Email, Chats, Voice-over-IP, WhatsApp, Skype, SMS, Chats, File Transfers, etc.
- Live Surveillance through inbuilt camera and microphone
- Country Tracing of Target
- Silent extracting of Files from device
- Process-based Key-logger for faster analysis
- Live Remote Forensics on Target System
- Advanced Filters to record only important information
- Supports most common Operating Systems (Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone)
For me as security specialist is curious ear how competitors propose to avoid this kind of surveillance focus to use encryption software, when the target device is compromised at the level to allow key-logger capabilities to capture what the user is typing from the source and file transfers directly from devices, any kind of encryption are useless because it is to protect against transmission media taped not compromised terminals.
To mitigate this kind of surveillance the only choices available is be very careful about software installed in your terminals because you can’t trust on your antivirus because can be easy bypassed; other more radical countermeasures are available for human rights campaigners and opposition activists who know that can be targets from oppressive governments.
Julian Bolivar-Galeno is an Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Architect whose expertise is in telecommunications, security and embedded systems. He works in BolivarTech focused on decision making, leadership, management and execution of projects oriented to develop strong security algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI) research and its applicability to smart solutions at mobile and embedded technologies, always producing resilient and innovative applications.