AP investigation finds Hacking Team tailor-made attackware for Ecuador’s spy agency

Aug. 7, 2015

By FRANK BAJAK and RAPHAEL SATTER

Associated Press

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Ecuadorean opposition activist Dr. Carlos Figueroa was being pursued by the state when his email and Facebook accounts were hacked. Several dozen of his colleagues have similarly had their digital lives violated. All blamed President Rafael Correa’s government, but no one had proof.

The Associated Press has found compelling evidence that Figueroa was indeed hacked by Ecuador’s domestic intelligence agency, with software tailor-made by an Italy-based company called Hacking Team that outfits governments with digital break-in tools.

That would tag Figueroa as the first publicly identified target from a catalog of more than 1 million company emails stolen by an unknown hacker and leaked online last month.

AP’s finding also casts doubt both on Hacking Team’s claims that its intrusion tools, which intercept phone calls, collect emails and record keystrokes, are for use against serious criminals, not dissidents, and on assertions by Ecuadorean officials that they do not spy on domestic opponents.

The purloined Hacking Team emails have thrown back the curtain on state-sponsored hacking across the world, drawing outrage in South Korea — where a spy caught up in the scandal killed himself — and Cyprus, whose intelligence chief resigned following the disclosures.

They were gathered and made easily searchable online by WikiLeaks, the secret-spilling website whose founder Julian Assange has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012.

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