South Africa’s link to The Spy Files

Well known whistleblower website WikiLeaks released a new batch of “Spy Files” on Wednesday, 4 September 2013, in which it once again links South Africa to what it calls the “mass surveillance industry”.

In a press statement announcing the latest release, WikiLeaks said that “Spy Files #3” contains 249 documents from 92 global intelligence contractors.

WikiLeaks said that the documents in Spy Files #3 include sensitive sales brochures and presentations used to convince state intelligence agencies into buying mass surveillance services and technologies.

Spy Files #3 also includes contracts and deployment documents, detailing specifics on how certain systems are installed and operated, WikiLeaks said.

According to WikiLeaks, these documents reveal how the US, EU, and developing world intelligence agencies have rushed into spending millions on next-generation mass surveillance technology to target communities, groups, and whole populations.

“Internet spying technologies now being sold on the intelligence market include detecting encrypted and obfuscated Internet usage such as Skype, BitTorrent, VPN, SSH, and SSL,” WikiLeaks said.

“The documents reveal how contractors work with intelligence and policing agencies to obtain decryption keys,” WikiLeaks said.

One of the vendors offering equipment to examine SSL-encrypted traffic that WikiLeaks lists is Netronome (listed as “Metronome”), which has offices in Centurion, South Africa.

WikiLeaks said that the documents also detail bulk interception methods for voice, SMS, MMS, e-mail, fax, and satellite phone communications.

Here WikiLeaks once again lists SA-based VASTech as one of the vendors that supply such systems.

The released documents also show intelligence contractors selling the ability to analyse web and mobile interceptions in real-time, WikiLeaks said.

WikiLeaks went on to specifically highlight that contracts and deployment documents in the release show evidence of these technologies being used to indiscriminately infect users in Oman with remote-controlled spyware.

“The FinFly ‘iProxy’ installation by Dreamlab shows how a target is identified and malware is silently inserted alongside a legitimate download while keeping the intended download functioning as expected,” WikiLeaks said.

WikiLeaks said that the target identification methods mean that anybody connecting through the same network would be systematically and automatically intercepted and infected as well, even unintended targets.

A new addition to the Spy Files are reports from the “WikiLeaks Counter Intelligence Unit (WLCIU)” which the website said has been “tracking the trackers.”

According to WikiLeaks, the WLCIU has collected data on the movements of key players in the surveillance contractor industry, including senior employees of Gamma, Hacking Team, and others as they travel through Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brazil, Spain, Mexico and other countries, including South Africa.

“The WikiLeaks Counter Intelligence Unit operates to defend WikiLeaks’ assets, staff and sources, and, more broadly, to counter threats against investigative journalism and the public’s right to know,” WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is quoted as saying.

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South Africa’s link to The Spy Files