Hacking Team data leak 'reveals links to Sudan and Russia'

Man typing code on a laptop

A surveillance and exploit tool vendor has been hacked, with documents revealing commercial links to countries it has denied doing business with.

The Italian company, Hacking Team, specialises in "offensive security", providing software to gain access to systems and collect data undetected.

However, its network was compromised at some point on Sunday evening by unknown cyber criminals, who hijacked its Twitter page to rename it 'Hacked Team', and posted a link to a torrent containing 400GB of stolen information.

The leaked files appear to show links between Hacking Team and countries such as Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.

Both governments have been criticised by Human Rights Watch in the past for oppressive regimes, and Sudan in particular is currently under a UN trade embargo.

A report by Citizen Lab in 2014 suggested that Hacking Team's Remote Control software was in use in the Sudan despite the embargo banning this, and a UN investigation has been ongoing for around a year.

Hacking Team has previously stated that it "has no business relations or any agreements that would allow the Sudan or any entity in its territory to use the software", but the leaked files suggest this is not true.

An invoice dated 5 September 2012 references a contract signed on 29 June that year between Sudan and Hacking Team.

The contract, apparently for the vendor's Remote Control software, was worth 960,000.

An internal maintenance document listing customers' subscription statuses also lists Sudan as "not officially supported" a category it shares with Russia.

Speaking with IBTimes in 2013, Eric Rabe, Hacking Team's head of communications, was keen to emphasise the legality of the company's dealings.

"The process under which Hacking Team sells its products is designed to make sure they are not abused and they are used in accordance with the applicable laws and international standards such as black lists that restrict where some products like this can be sold," he told the site.

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.