Italian malware hacked Android & Apple phones

A malware program built in Italy has been used to spy on Android and Apple devices in Kazakhstan and Italy, according to a recent admission from Alphabet Inc.’s Google. According to the story, RCS Lab, a Milan-based business whose website names European law enforcement organizations as clients, developed tools to spy on the impacted devices’ texts and contacts.  


Authorities in the United States and Europe are proposing changes to the legislation covering the sale and import of malware. “These providers are supporting the proliferation of destructive hacking tools and arming states that would not be able to obtain these capabilities natively,” Google added. 

Requests for a reaction from the administrations of Italy and Kazakhstan did not quickly receive a response. According to an Apple spokesperson, all known ids and certificates associated with this hacking effort have been invalidated. 

 According to RCS Lab, its products and services are consistent with European standards and aid law enforcement in criminal investigations. RCS Lab responded in an email to Reuters that its staff is “not exposed to, nor do they participate in any activities taken by the relevant customers.” It was also vehemently opposed to any abuse of its product. 

Google stated that it has taken efforts to protect Android users and had warned them about the Hermit virus. More companies are developing intercepting tools for law enforcement, supporting a global industry that creates malware for governments. 


Anti-surveillance organizations accuse certain governments of using such technologies to violate civil and human rights. When the Israeli espionage firm NSO’s Pegasus software was recently uncovered to have been used by numerous governments to eavesdrop on journalists, activists, and dissidents, the industry came under severe international scrutiny. 

According to Bill Marczak, a security specialist with the internet watchdog Citizen Lab, RCS Lab’s malware may still monitor conversations and evaluate passwords, while not being as stealthy as Pegasus. This illustrates that, despite the proliferation of these devices, significant work has to be done to safeguard them against these powerful attacks, he says. 

On its website, RCS Lab sells “lawful interception” goods and services such as speech, data collecting, and “GPS tracking.” It promises to manage 10,000 seized targets in Europe alone every day. RCS Lab had previously collaborated with the infamous, now-defunct Italian intelligence outfit Hacking Team, which had created similar surveillance software for other governments to eavesdrop on people’s computers and smartphones.  


Hacking Team declared bankruptcy in 2015 after being the subject of a large attack that resulted in the leak of numerous internal documents. According to Billy Leonard, a senior researcher at Google, in some cases, the business believed that hackers utilizing RCS spyware coordinated with the target’s ISP, implying that they had ties to culprits with government support. 

According to the mobile security company, there is evidence that Hermit was used in a Syrian province with a significant Kurdish population. According to experts from Lookout, analysis of Hermit revealed that it can be used to take control of cellphones, capture audio, reroute calls, and gather data including contacts, texts, images, and GPS.  

Google and Lookout observed that links in texts sent to victims are used to propagate malware. In certain instances, we think the attackers collaborated with the victim’s ISP to block the victim’s mobile data connection, according to Google.  

After disabling the target’s data connectivity, the attacker would give them a malicious link through SMS demanding them to install a program to restore it. The spies sent links appearing to be from smartphone companies or messaging services to get customers to click when they weren’t disguising themselves as mobile internet service providers, according to experts.  


Hermit deceives consumers by displaying the official websites of the firms it impersonates while launching harmful operations in the background, according to experts from Lookout. Google claimed to have increased software defenses and informed Android users who were at risk from the malware. According to Apple, actions have been taken to protect apple users.  

As per the Alphabet-owned tech giant, Google’s security team is monitoring more than 30 businesses that provide surveillance tools to governments. According to Google, the commercial malware market is booming and expanding quickly. 



Source: Theguardian

Also read about: MaliBot, The Latest Android Malware

Italian malware hacked Android & Apple phones

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