FinFisher (German Software Company) offices have been raided by German authorities. They were accused of providing surveillance software tools to oppressive regimes.

Such raids took place on October 6 and 8 at 15 properties (business premises and private apartments) across Germany and Romania, after being ordered by the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Let’s see why FinFisher company got raided and how did it happen.

 

FinFisher Raided by German Police Officers

 

Probably you didn’t know, but one of FinFisher’s most popular tools, FinSpy is a very powerful one sold as a “legal-law enforcement” tool. 

 

That’s not the bad part of their story. What got them into trouble, is the fact that oppressive and dubious government regimes are its ideal customer.

 

In short words, FinSpy is used to spy on activists, journalists, and all kinds of political dissidents. It can be easily set up to target anyone an operator wants.

 

The spyware includes webcam and microphone enabling features, as well as keylogging, call interception and recording, and exfiltration of information.

 

It’s widely compatible with mobile (Android and iOS) and desktop operation systems (Windows, macOS, and Linux), which has let infections spotted in more than 20 countries.

 

Alright, let’s make something clear. While all of that clearly sounds unethical, it doesn’t mean it’s illegal. There’s a thin line between these two, and so far, FinFisher hadn’t made an illegal act that gets authorities’ attention.

 

At least it was like it before a new report came out from BR (Bayerischer Rundfunk) and (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) NDR, which suggests the firm was illegally exporting FinSpy to countries where they weren’t licensed to do it. 

To make it even more clear that this was the drop that broke the glass, FinFisher was originally marketing its tools to Intelligence Agencies like the German federal police and Berlin police

But what the company wasn’t allowed to do (not issued by the federal government) is to sell their tools to countries like Ethiopia, and Bahrain — where surveillance tools like FinSpy are prohibited.

This confrontation started to arise in 2015 when permission required to export FinSpy to non-EU countries was introduced across Europe. 

Still, they decided it was a good idea to distribute it anyway. Afterward, in 2017, the surveillance tool was found on an important Turkish website, as well as in Egypt, to target NGOs. 

Tagesschau (German news agency) first reported the raids, which claims that the FinFisher (spyware company) had been using satellite companies in other countries to evade Germany’s stricter export restrictions 

Unfortunately enough, the media site took down the original report after the spyware company sued them… And won the case. 

What do you think can happen from now on?

Let’s hope the same doesn’t keep repeating across other countries, with different toolmakers (or even open-source tools researchers). 

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