Google accuses an Italian company of spying on smartphones


Google says software from Italian company RCS Lab has been used to spy on iPhones and Android phones. At least that would have happened in Italy and Kazakhstan, the tech giant said in a report on Thursday.

Google writes that the Milan-based company has developed several tools capable of spying on private messages and device contacts. This would have actually happened in Italy and Kazakhstan. It is not known how many people were monitored.

According to researcher Bill Marczak of security company Citizen Lab, the Italian company’s tools are not as advanced as the popular Pegasus spyware. He states that with the software, it is still possible to read messages and see passwords.

Google researchers also claim that RCS Lab has previously collaborated with the controversial spy firm Hacking Team. The company, which went bankrupt in 2015, also allegedly created software to tap phones and computers belonging to foreign governments, according to the tech giant.

According to RCS Lab, Google’s claims are false. The company tells the news agency Reuters that the products and services comply with European rules and that it cooperates with enforcement authorities.

Google says it has taken steps to protect users of its Android systems. Those involved were also informed of the existence of the spyware. Apple said in a statement that it “has revoked all known accounts and certificates related to this hacking campaign.”

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