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Wikileaks reveals Somaliland using Somtel to obtain Commercial Spyware to hack citizen's Smartphones & PCS

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Thursday July 23, 2015 - 03:58:48 in Articles by Super Admin
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    Wikileaks reveals Somaliland using Somtel to obtain Commercial Spyware to hack citizen's Smartphones & PCS

    Hargeisa, (The Independent) -In more than one million emails from the Italian surveillance malware vendor Hacking Team, published by WikiLeaks on July 8, 2015 revealed that Somtel Company, the second largest telecom operator in the country on behalf

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Hargeisa, (The Independent) -In more than one million emails from the Italian surveillance malware vendor Hacking Team, published by WikiLeaks on July 8, 2015 revealed that Somtel Company, the second largest telecom operator in the country on behalf of Somaliland government procured the 'flagship' RCS (Remote Control System) software from Hacking team to be used against Somaliland citizens.

The leaked emails also shed light on the extent of the spying being conducted by Somaliland government against its populations

The leaked emails also shed light on the extent of the spying being conducted by Somaliland government against its populations.

In a series of emails to the Italian spyware firm Hacking Team, Somtel Company claimed that it plays as security organization for the government and procured for the Hacking Team’s high-end surveillance equipment RCS (Remote Control System) software to hack and access citizen’s emails, Skype & Voice calls, social media accounts, keystrokes, messages, screenshots, camera snapshots, etc.

On July 5 the Italian company, Hacking Team’s Twitter account was reportedly compromised. Over 400GB of data, featuring internal emails, invoices and source codes were revealed via BitTorrent.

At least 46 countries including Somaliland are identified as purchasing, or preparing to purchase, Hacking Team software. The list features Western powers, such as the United States, Britain and Australia, along with openly repressive regimes around the world, including military dictatorships such as Egypt and Sudan.

On Saturday July 18, Somtel blocked the Wikileaks website from its internet in order to conceal the leaked emails from Somaliland public.

The email communications between Somtel and surveillance malware vendor Hacking Team took place on October 2012.

The first email (shown below) was sent by the Chief Technical Officer of Somtel Ismail Duale to a salesman of Hacking Team Marco on October 30, 2012 asking him information about the RCS (Remote Control System).

In his email, Duale claimed that Somaliland government requested Somtel to check emails of suspected individuals, where he stated that the Company advised the government that they can support them with Trojan horses (a program with a malicious or harmful code) to spy the suspects individuals.

Below is the email sent by Somtel CTO Mr. Ismail Duale to Marco of Hacking Team.

Da: Ismail Dualeh [mailto:[email protected]]

Inviato: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 01:22 PM

A: <[email protected]>

Oggetto: Somtel

 Dear Marco,

hope all is well.

My name is ismail dualeh , i am the CTO for somtel , a telecom operator in somaliland . i have got your contact from hagai frenkel of NICE systems.

we have request from our government to check emails in case they suspect any users and we have advised them we can support them with  Trojan horses therefore we need to add this capability our the network .we are currently  testing various solutions and we want to evaluate your solution as well.

looking to hear from you.

Ismail Dualeh

Chief Technical Officer

Somtel International

+25279000001

On November 13, 2013, two weeks after Duale’s email to the Italian surveillance malware vendor, Somtel received response fromthe Hacking Team through Massimiliano Luppi, the Key Account Manager of Hacking Team.

In its reply email, Hacking Team boasts that its programs can "attack, infect and monitor target PCs and smart phones, in a stealth way” and "bypass encryption, collect relevant data out of any device, and keep monitoring your targets wherever they are, even outside your monitoring domain.”

The Italian firm also told Somtel Company that their policy allows selling the product to Government, Law Enforcement and Security Organizations only.

Below is the reply email from Massimiliano Luppi of the Hacking Team

From: Massimiliano Luppi [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 1:14 PM

To: [email protected]

Cc: HT

Subject: R: I: Somtel

Dear Mr. Dualeh,

 Many thanks for contacting us and for the interest in our technology.

 RCS is designed to attack, infect and monitor target PCs and Smart-phones in a stealth way, including its location.

Once a target is infected, RCS allows you to access a variety of information, including:

Skype traffic (VoIP, chat), keystrokes (all Unicode languages), mails, messages, target positioning, files, screenshots, microphone eavesdropped data, camera snapshots, etc.

Supported PC platforms are: Windows XP/Vista/7 (32 & 64 bit) and Mac-OS.

The Smartphones’ platforms are Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian, Blackberry and Android.

Would you mind having a look at the two RCS videos on our website?

http://www.hackingteam.it/index.php/remote-control-system

As you can imagine, our policy allows us to sell the product to Government, Law Enforcement and Security Organizations only.

Regarding your enquiry, please note that we do not provide geographical representation; our approach is to work side by side with a local partner (like you) on every specific deal.

This means that, if you have a potential business opportunity, we will give you protection on such client for 1 year.

Obviously, in order to understand, if we can move on, we need to know which agency we are talking about.

If everything is positive, we will proceed with the signature of our Non Disclosure Agreement and we’ll organize a meeting with the potential client.

 Looking forward to receiving your reply.

 Kindest Regards,

 Massimiliano Luppi

Key Account Manager

HackingTeam

Milan Singapore Washington DC

www.hackingteam.com

mail: [email protected]

mobile: +39 3666539760

phone: +39 02 29060603

On Novermber 14, 2012 the Somtel Company CTO Mr. Ismail Duale sent another email to Mr. Massimilano of the Hacking Team telling him that Somtel plays as security organization for the government.

In his email Mr. Duale also was keen to to sign the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)  with the Hacking Team and have trial of the RCS.

Below is the second email sent by Ismail Duale of Somtel to Hacking Team.

Dear Massimilano,

 Thank you for the response . we play as security organization for the government , when they need any security we provide it to them.

Therefore I hope we will be able to sign the NDA and have trial of the RCS .

 Thanks

 Ismail Dualeh

Chief Technical Officer-SOMTEL

T : +252 7 972 90 00 | M : +252 7 900 00 01

E : [email protected]

What is RCS?

According to the Hacking Team Brochure (you can download here)

Remote Control System (RCS) is a solution designed to evade encryption by means of an agent directly installed on the device to monitor. Evidence collection on monitored devices is stealth and transmission of collected data from the device to the RCS server is encrypted and untraceable.

RCS installations are deployed at the Customer’s premises, thus guaranteeing to the customer total control on its operations and security.

In other words, RCS is a piece of spyware, that when installed on your computer or smartphone, begins monitoring you and your internet usage, surreptitiously transmitting that information back the Command and Control (C+C) servers for further manual investigation. This is quite a typical piece of surveillance software meant to spy on people.

The RCS still requires to be implanted onto your system, and for this Hacking Team utilized vulnerabilities in software like Windows, Android, Flash that weren’t publicly known. Meaning they knew of weak spots in Flash that even the manufacturer wasn’t aware of to bypass checks and protections, so that their RCS agent could be implanted onto a victims machine.

Below is a RCS promotional video from the Hacking Team

Legality

Although hacking is internationally illegal, but the Italian Firms hacking software RCS is commercially legal and the Hacking Team enforces a strict user policy.

Hacking Team’s strict user policies include:

We will refuse to provide or we will stop supporting our technologies to governments or government agencies that:

  • We believe have used HT technology to facilitate gross human rights abuses.
  • Who refuse to agree to or comply with provisions in our contracts that describe intended use of HT software, or who refuse to sign contracts that include requirements that HT software be used lawfully.
  • Who refuse to accept auditing features built into HT software that allow administrators to monitor how the system is being used.

Finally, the begging question is does Somtel Company has the authority to run surveillance programs? The answer is no where the law only allows the police to surveillance on citizens

Somtel’s effort to acquire hacking software to spy and monitor citizen’s mobile phones and Personal Computers is a direct of violation of basic Human rights enshrined in Somaliland Constitution.

Source: hubaalmedia.com

http://hubaalmedia.net/wikileaks-reveals-somaliland-government-using-somtel-company-to-obtain-commercial-spyware-to-hack-citizens-mobile-phones-pcs/

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