German authorities have raided the offices of FinFisher, the popular German surveillance firm as part of an investigation into the alleged sale of their software to oppressive regimes.
The news was first reported by the German news agency Tagesschau, which claims FinFisher had been using satellite companies to evade restrictions on the exportation of its surveillance tools.
The Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the police to raid 15 locations around Munich and at a connected company in Romania on October 6 and October 8.
The authorities started the investigation last year after the German blog Netzpolitik and some advocacy groups (Reporters Without Borders, Society for Freedom Rights, and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights), filed a complaint with Munich prosecutors in the summer of 2019.
The complaint claims that the popular surveillance firm FinFisher eluded the restrictions for the sale of the software to oppressive regimes that used it to spy on activists, political dissidents, privacy advocates, and citizens.
The company denied accusations and sued the German blog and requested the removal of the article on the case.
In September, Amnesty International uncovered a new surveillance campaign that targeted Egyptian civil society organizations with previously undisclosed versions of the infamous FinSpy surveillance spyware.
The new versions employed in this campaign allow its operators to spy on both Linux and macOS systems.
Finisher, aka FinFisher, is a multiplatform surveillance software used by government and law enforcement agencies for their investigations, but unfortunately, it made the headlines because it was also used by oppressive regimes to spy on dissidents, activists, and Journalists.
Since 2011 it was employed in attacks aimed at Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in many countries, including Bahrain, Ethiopia, UAE, and more.
FinSpy can spy on most popular desktop and mobile operating systems, including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux. It allows to use the users’ devices as a spying tool, it can control both webcam and microphone, to spy on communications and exfiltrate data stored on the infected systems.
The new versions of FinSpy spyware were used by a new unknown hacking group, Amnesty International speculates the involvement of a nation-state actor that employed them since September 2019.
FinFisher was officially designed for law enforcement investigations and intelligence agencies, but across the years, security experts have found on the devices of dissidents and journalists in countries many countries, including Ethiopia, Bahrain, Egypt, and Turkey where this surveillance software cannot be exported.
(SecurityAffairs – hacking, K-Electric)