NEW DELHI:Documents and internal emails of Italian spyware maker Hacking Team, released by WikiLeaks, reveal that Indian intelligence agencies were procuring surveillance technology, which can access the targets’ desktops, intercept mobile calls, steal files and spy on emails. One of the emails leaked by WikiLeaks is related to CABSEC (external spy agency R&AW), which the company claimed was one of its Indian clients.
A leaked email suggests that Hacking Team was contacted by an Indian firm to submit a proposal for the Tamil Nadu Cyber Crime Division. “We are in touch with the Tamil Nadu Cyber Crime Division in India and we have been told that it does not have enough strength to track and monitor mobile signals.”
It appears from the email exchanged between NICE Systems Ltd., Israel, and Hacking Team that R&AW’s offer to these companies was made in August 2011. An August 21, 2011, email from Adam of Nice Systems to Marco of Hacking Team said, “CABSEC is an intelligence organization, directly under the Prime Minister’s Office. They are already a customer of us (for other solutions…). I will prepare and update about all opportunities and will forward to you ASAP.”
The purported email and attachments by Hacking Team also revealed the presentation given to R&AW about the lawful hacking platform, which offers intelligence monitoring and remote-controlling of targeted computers and mobile devices.
An intelligence officer said leaks will not compromise their strategic intelligence collection as all equipment purchased by them is meant for lawful interception against terror outfits and elements inimical to the nation. “Intelligence collection is a clandestine activity and we have to guard against powerful state and non-state actors across the globe. In terms of strengthening our cyber capacity to thwart the enemy’s penetration targeting critical infrastructure, it is all the more important, given that terrorist outfits and hackers consistently attempt to compromise our systems,” the officer said.
The leaked emails purportedly show that Hacking Team executives travelled to Chennai to give a demonstration on “Remote Control System” in 2011. “We confirm that the demonstration would be conducted entirely at our cost and it will not be binding / obligatory on your part to buy the equipment/solutions.”
An email in February 2014 suggested that customers, R&AW, Intelligence Bureau and National Investigation Agency are interested in ‘Webinar’, a web-based seminar. “Probably someone from NTRO (National Tech Research Organization) will join as these provide all technical recommendations for the mentioned agencies.”
On July 2, 2015, an email indicated a scheduled meeting on July 7, with Hacking Team executives in Hyderabad. It is unclear whether they were meeting the police, intelligence or other officials.
Interestingly, the Italian and its associate companies were also selling their snooping devices to agencies in Pakistan. An email dated August 20, 2013, claimed that at least two other companies also supplied equipment to Pakistan’s ISI. “As Mostapha informed you, you will be your peer for the Pakistan activities. As we informed Mostapha, we are currently awaiting the promotion of the new DGT of ISI, any action with the current one will be a waste of time as he will be out of the job soon.”
An email also said that technicians were scared to travel to Pakistan and they wanted a local partner to do the job. “I am not in a position to delegate one of our employees to travel to Pakistan. I can’t take the responsibility that something will happen to our technicians,” said an email of 2011.
[“source – newindianexpress.com”]