Hacking Team

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Hacking Team is a Milan-based IT company that sells offensive intrusion and surveillance capabilities to governments and law enforcement agencies. Its remote control systems enable governments to monitor the communications of internet users, decipher their encrypted files and emails, record Skype and other Voice over IP communications, and remotely activate microphones and camera on target computers.[1] The company has been criticized for providing these capabilities to governments with poor human rights records.[2] Hacking Team states that they have the ability to disable their software if it is used unethically.[3]

In June 2014, a report from the University of Toronto detailed the functionality and architecture of Hacking Team’s Remote Control System (RCS) software and operator tradecraft.[4]

Hacking Team employs around 40 people in its Italian office, and has subsidiary branches in Annapolis and Singapore. Its products are in use in dozens of countries across six continents.[5]

Company history[edit]

Hacking Team was started by two Italian programmers, Alberto Ornaghi and Marco Valleri. Prior to the company's formal establishment, Ornaghi and Valleri created a set of tools that could used for monitoring and remotely manipulating target computers. The program, called Ettercap, was embraced both by hackers looking to spy on people, and by companies that hoped to test the security of their own networks.

The Milan police department learned of the tools. Hoping to use Ettercap to spy on Italian citizens and listen to their skype calls, the police contacted Ornaghi and Valleri and asked them for help modifying the program for these purposes. Hacking Team was born, and became "the first sellers of commercial hacking software to the police."[5]


Hacking team enables governments to perform the following remote monitoring functions against citizens:

  • Covert collection of emails, text message, phone call history and address books
  • Keystroke logging
  • Uncover search history data and take screenshots
  • record audio from phone calls
  • Use phones to collect ambient noise and conversations
  • Activate phone or computer cameras
  • Hijack telephone GPS systems to monitor target's location

Hacking team uses advanced techniques to avoid draining cell phone batteries, which could potentially raise suspicions, and other methods to avoid detection.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Enemies of the Internet: Hacking Team". Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Marczak, Bill; Gaurnieri, Claudio; Marquis-Boire, Morgan; Scott-Railton, John (February 17, 2014). "Mapping Hacking Team's "Untraceable" Spyware". 
  3. ^ Kopstein, Joshua (10 March 2014). "Hackers Without Borders". The New Yorker. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Marquis-Boire, Morgan; Gaurnieri, Claudio; Scott-Railton, John; Kleemola, Katie (June 24, 2014). "Police Story: Hacking Team’s Government Surveillance Malware". Citizen Lab. University of Toronto. Retrieved August 3, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Jeffries, Adrianne (13 September 2013). "Meet Hacking Team, the company that helps the police hack you". The Verge. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Schneier, Bruce. "More on Hacking Team's Government Spying Software".