02-13-2014 07:30 AM
Ethiopian journalists in the US were targeted by malware sold exclusively to governments by the Hacking Team company, according to security researchers.
Staffers at Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT), an independent TV, radio, and online news outlet run by Ethiopian ex-pats, was targeted repeatedly by spyware in late December. The spyware was designed to steal files and passwords, and intercept Skype calls and instant messages.
In each case, the spyware appeared to be Remote Control System (RCS), sold exclusively to governments by Milan-based Hacking Team, according to a subsequent analysis of the malware by independent researchers working for Citizen Lab*.
Hacking Team states that they do not sell RCS to “repressive regimes” and that RCS is not sold through “independent agents”. However, Ethiopia has a poor record for upholding human rights and local journalists are frequently targeted for arrest and subsequent beatings or other forms of abuse, according to Human Rights Watch.