Hacking Team fallout: Cyprus’ head of intelligence falls on sword, company tout new system
Heads have begun to roll in the wake of the recent Hacking Team breach. The first victim on the chopping block is the head of Cyprus’ intelligence service, Andreas Pentaras, who has resigned as a direct result of the fiasco.
Speaking to The Cyprus Weekly, a government spokesperson, Nicos Christodoulides, explained the departure: “In light of the revelations that surfaced with regards to use of a specific tracking system by the Cyprus Intelligence Service and in order to protect the integrity of the department, the head of the service, Mr Andreas Pentaras, has today handed in his resignation which in turn was accepted by the President of the Republic.”
The newspaper pointed out that Cyprus has strict laws regarding surveillance, and that the remote attack vectors purchased by the Cyprus Intelligence Service (KYP) from Hacking Team compromised the data-protection rights of its citizens. The leaked documents revealed that the KYP had paid €50,000 for the company’s services.
Meanwhile, Hacking Team responded to the furore by releasing a statement on Monday (13 July). CEO David Vincenzetti claimed it had “ended relationships with clients such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Russia”.
The beleaguered firm also attempted to deflect attention from recent revelations by unveiling a new version of its software. The CEO described the company’s new software, Remote Control System version 10, as “a total replacement for the existing Galileo system” and stated that it was due to be released in the autumn.
The original revelations surfaced in the evening of 5 July, when Hacking Team was the victim of a hacking attack. 400GB of internal documents were leaked online, several of which revealed ties to administrations affiliated with human rights abuses in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Sudan.
So far much of the focus from the fallout has been on Hacking Team itself, which has been named a “corporate enemy of the internet” by press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders. The Italian company previously denied any involvement with Sudan – currently subject to a UN arms embargo – and yet the leaked documents included an invoice between the company and the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) for the sum of €480,000 (£340,000).
The leaked documents also revealed that the company has government clients in Italy, Egypt, Australia and Nigeria, and suggest that a number of US agencies are customers of Hacking Team, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Defense and the FBI. In short, this is unlikely to signal the end to the debacle.