Researchers have uncovered a nefarious but comically incompetent spyware campaign that’s targeting Ethiopian dissidents in the US, UK, and other countries.
A report published Wednesday morning by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said the campaign, which has operated for at least 14 months, is carried out using hacking tools sold by Cyberbit, a wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems, an Israeli company whose shares are sold on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Log files left unprotected on the Internet showed people inside Ethiopia using the spyware in an attempt to surreptitiously surveil journalists, researchers, and activists in 20 countries.
The report is the latest to expose the shady world of commercial spyware, which often sells potent hacking tools to countries with known human rights abuses. Previous companies caught selling surveillance wares to rogue nations include UK-based Gamma Group, Italy-based Hacking Team, and NSO Group of Israel. Use of Elbit-owned Cyberbit tools to spy on Ethiopian dissidents all but confirms the Israeli company does the same thing.