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Corporate Developed Spyware Being Masked as FireFox Files; Mozilla is Not Amused

by on01 May 2013 1690 times
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Malware, spyware, viruses these are all things that are part of the modern computing experience. When you are online you always have to be aware of the dangers of these items. Over the years the developers of malware have become more and more clever at disguising their wares from users and anti-malware programs. This is something that you would expect of this group as in many cases they are looking to gather money, information or pull your system into their botnets (which can also equal money). However what you would not expect is for a legitimate company to use the same tactics to build their own spyware to assist governments and law enforcement.

Sadly this is the case with Gamma International Ltd. This company is one of the best known purveyors of institutional malware. They have contracts with governments and law enforcement to develop applications that are capable of spying on users that have these apps installed. In the past they have used a number of methods to disguise their presence, but in the recent past they took this subterfuge one step too far. They have tried to hide their product by making it appear to be a file belonging to Mozilla’s Firefox.

To say that Mozilla is upset at this is a gross understatement. They have asked Gamma to stop the practice to no avail. Now they are headed to court to get this stopped once and for all. Alex Fowler has said “We are sending Gamma, the FinFisher parent company, a cease and desist letter demanding that these practices be stopped immediately”. Now while this move might pull Mozilla out of the mix it is unlikely to stop the spread of government surveillance and spyware.

FinFisher has been used in over 36 countries to spy on citizens and organizations. The malware is capable of logging keystrokes, capturing Skype conversations, using webcams and microphones on devices as recording devices and more. Gamma is already listed as an enemy of the internet because of FinFisher and other actions that show they have little regard for the people that are being spy upon using their software.

The widespread use of this type of tool on the internet to spy on people and organizations is concerning to a great degree. It exposes a sad truth and that is you are not safe on the internet. You are exposed to dangers not only from malicious individuals that want to steal from you, but also from corporate invented programs to find and spy on people that disagree with what their governments might be doing. The fact that these companies are using the same techniques that the “bad guys” do is a pretty clear indication that they know what they are doing is ethically and morally less than above board, but in the interest of profit they are not going to stop… really is makes them just as bad as the guy who writes a scareware program to get $40 and your credit card number. Sadly only one of them ever has the chance of being held accountable for their actions.

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Last modified on 01 May 2013
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