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Terrifying video shows government spyware in action for the first time

September 6th, 2016 at 9:00 PM
Hacking software demo video

With the Snowden leaks, Stingray and FBI surveillance planes always in the news, most people just assume that The Man has god-like surveillance capabilities on tap. But the nuts and bolts of how government-sanctioned hacking actually works has always been a little mysterious.

A new video obtained by Motherboard shows an Italian software company showing off a hacking tool, intended for use by police forces and government agencies. The video shows how little technical knowledge cops really need to get a scary level of detail out of a target’s computer.

DON’T MISS: Every non-iPhone thing Apple might unveil tomorrow

The video shows off a software product from Italian firm RCS Labs called Mito3. RCS’s website describes this product as a “monitoring center” that “retrieves, decodes, processes and stores contents coming from virtually any kind of communication network.”

In simple terms, it lets the user easily hack a victim’s computer and gain access to the screen, microphone, webcam, and even GPS location. Complete surveillance of every part of the computer, and a good reason to do a Zuckerberg with your computer’s webcam.

Initiating the hack is easy. The RCS employee demonstrates how he injects HTML into an innocuous-looking website, and then creates a popup that prompts the victim to download a Flash update. (Side note: never follow a link to a Flash update!) From there, the computer is hacked, although a fake update appears to happen on screen to appease the user.

None of the capabilities on display here are hugely surprising, but the simple user interface and speed is a little shocking. In case you thought all hackers were paranoid geniuses living in some Mr Robot fantasy, think again.

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