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Terrifying video shows government spyware in action for the first time

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.

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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.