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[liberationtech] Hacking Team Reloaded? US-Based Ethiopian Journalists Again Targeted with Spyware

Ronald Deibert r.deibert at
Mon Mar 9 05:13:17 PDT 2015


The Citizen Lab has published a new report this morning detailing our findings concerned the apparent use by the Ethiopian intelligence service of a spyware sold by an Italian company "Hacking Team", used to target US-based Ethiopian journalists.

Link to full report:

Washington Post coverage:

Motherboard coverage:

Human Rights Watch has issued a press release, which can be found here:

And the summary is below

Hacking Team Reloaded? US-Based Ethiopian Journalists Again Targeted with Spyware

Authors: Bill Marczak, John Scott-Railton, and Sarah McKune


• On February 12, 2014, Citizen Lab published a report documenting how journalists at the Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT) were targeted by a governmental attacker in December 2013, with what appeared to be Hacking Team’s Remote Control System (RCS) spyware.
• This report details the events of November 5 and 10 and December 19, 2014, when the same attacker again targeted ESAT journalists based in the United States with what appear to be two updated versions of Hacking Team’s RCS spyware.
• We link the governmental attacker to Ethiopia. The attacker may be the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency (INSA).
• Hacking Team has a customer policy concerning the human rights implications of its products, and claims it investigates and may take action in response to reported cases of abuse. The research findings documented in this report suggest that Hacking Team may have continued to provide updated versions of its spyware to the same attacker, despite reports of use of the spyware against journalists.

Ronald Deibert
Director, the Citizen Lab 
and the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies
Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto
(416) 946-8916
r.deibert at

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