Of particular interest not only here in Colombia but well beyond its borders, from a trove of hacked files from The Hacking Team, a Milan-based IT company that sells intrusion and surveillance capabilities, or spyware, to governments and law enforcement agencies around the world, via Ryan Gallagher at The Intercept:
Hacking Team supplies its technology to the DEA, which one email shows is apparently using the spyware to launch surveillance operations from the U.S. embassy in Bogota, Colombia. More notably, the email suggests that, in addition to the Hacking Team technology, the DEA is also using other spying equipment at the embassy in Colombia to perform dragnet Internet surveillance.
The email reads:
We met with Michael Casey, the DEA person in charge of the system here in Colombia. He told us he would need our technical support because they bought another interception tool (something that will receive all the traffic for Colombian’s ISPs) and they will place it in the current room where RCS is.
I wonder how big a room is required? Emphasis above is mine, text as it appeared in the email is in the tweet below.
Very interesting Hacking Team email on US DEA using spy tech “that will receive all the traffic for Columbian ISPs”: pic.twitter.com/HBJG70Ymaj
— Ryan Gallagher (@rj_gallagher) July 6, 2015
The ability to pull in “all the traffic” from its chief ally’s internet traffic underscores the priority Colombia continues to maintain in the region. In 2013 Brazil’s O Globo reported that Colombia was the third most spied upon country in South America by the NSA, after Brazil and Mexico.
RCS is the company’s Remote Control System, or Galileo, a product that can remotely turn on a handheld device’s microphone and recorder. The firm has long been accused of working with repressive governments, charges seemingly confirmed from the data culled from the hacked records. It has also denied that it provided its technology to various US agencies including the DEA, FBI, CIA and others. Those denials are now moot as well with files suggesting a relationship with the FBI going back to at least 2011.
This was just one email from a massive 400gb bundle of internal files dumped online last week. The hacking was announced through Hacking Team’s twitter account which was also hijacked. Earlier this week the entire document dump was published by Wikileaks in an easy-to-use searchable format.
And finally, yesterday Motherboard published a full transcript of a recent interview with Hacking Team spokesman Eric Rabe who tries to manage a dance around charges that repressive regimes have indeed regularly appeared on their list of clients.
Photo: Eyes gazing through a brisk rain, Bogota, 15-June 2015.