Australian Police Spend Millions on Spyware: WikiLeaks

Australian Police Spend Millions on Spyware: WikiLeaks
Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:31:50

Police in the Australian state of New South Wales spent over $2 million on powerful spy programs to monitor the smartphones and notebooks of Australian citizens, according to the latest revelations from WikiLeaks.

The spyware for NSW police was developed by a German company, RT reported.
The new batch of documents published by the whistleblower on Monday maintains that Australian police have used spyware from Gamma International, a German company specializing in developing spyware for remote computer monitoring, while conducting some investigations.
Sophisticated German-made software known as FinSpy enables spacious access to computer records, including full chat communications (e.g. Skype) and email monitoring, extracting files from hard drives, logging keystrokes and grabbing images of computer screens. FinSpy is allegedly capable of operating under all major desktop and mobile OS, namely Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile.
An unidentified NSW police officer wrote in a communication with the software developers that there is a risk that the program can garb really sensitive data – such as confidential communication with a lawyer.
“The captured information needs to be able to be identified as legal privilege and not used in any further intelligence capability as it is considered private. There are other categories that may come up so it would be useful if the categories could be implemented at the user level rather than hard coded by Gamma,” a document revealed by WikiLeaks claimed.
“When FinSpy is installed on a computer system it can be remotely controlled and accessed as soon as it is connected to the internet/network, no matter where in the world the target system is based,” WikiLeaks said.
NSW Police used a set of spy programs developed by Gamma International, which cost the budget more than $2 million (1.8 million euro). WikiLeaks alleges that there are no online tender records of either Gamma International or any of its subsidiaries holding contracts with NSW Police - despite the substantial costs of the spyware.
NSW Police confirmed the use of spyware to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Given this technology relates to operational capabilility [sic], it's not appropriate to comment,” a police spokesman said.
To get remote access to a personal computer legally, NSW Police could apply for a special covert search warrant, obtained from an ‘eligible judge’ on Australia’s Supreme Court bench, empowered to grant those types of warrants.
The ‘SpyFiles 4’ WikiLeaks publication also names police forces of the Netherlands, Singapore's PCS Security Pte Ltd and intelligence arms of the Hungarian, Italian, and Bosnian governments as buyers of FinFischer malware.