An Italian company’s hacking tools were used to spy on Apple iPhones and Android phones in Italy and Kazakhstan, Alphabet subsidiary Google said in a report on Thursday.
Milan-based RCS Lab, whose website claims European law enforcement agencies as clients, developed tools to spy on private messages and contacts of the targeted devices, the report said.
Google’s findings on RCS Lab comes as European and American regulators weigh potential new rules over the sale and import of spyware. “These vendors are enabling the proliferation of dangerous hacking tools and arming governments that would not be able to develop these capabilities in-house,” Google said.
The global industry making spyware for governments has been growing, with more and more companies developing interception tools for law enforcement organizations. Anti-surveillance activists accuse them of aiding governments that in some cases are using such tools to crack down on human rights and civil rights.
The industry came under a global spotlight when the Israeli surveillance firm NSO’s Pegasus spyware was in recent years found to have been used by multiple governments to spy on journalists, activists, and dissidents.
While RCS Lab’s tool may not be as stealthy as Pegasus, it can still read messages and view passwords, said Bill Marczak, a security researcher with digital watchdog Citizen Lab.
MacDailyNews Take: We await Apple’s response.
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