Microsoft, Google, Citizen Lab blow lid off zero-day bug-exploiting spyware sold to governments • The Register

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Analysis Software patches from Microsoft this week closed two vulnerabilities exploited by spyware said to have been sold to governments by Israeli developer Candiru.

On Thursday, Citizen Lab released a report fingering Candiru as the maker of the espionage toolkit, an outfit Microsoft code-named Sourgum. It is understood the spyware, code-named DevilsTongue by Microsoft, exploited at least a pair of zero-day holes in Windows to infect particular targets’ machines.

Redmond said at least 100 people – from politicians, human rights activists, and journalists, to academics, embassy workers and political dissidents – have had their systems infiltrated by Sourgum’s code; about half are in Palestine, and the rest dotted around Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, Spain, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Armenia, and Singapore.

Once it has comprehensively compromised a Windows PC, DevilsTongue can exfiltrate the victim’s files, obtain their login credentials for online and network accounts, snoop on chat messages, and more. Candiru also touts spyware that can infect and monitor iPhones, Android devices, and Macs, as well as Windows PCs, it is claimed. The products are said to be on sale to government agencies and other organizations, which then use the espionage software against their chosen targets.

“Candiru’s apparent widespread presence, and the use of its surveillance technology against global civil society, is a potent reminder that the mercenary spyware industry contains many players and is prone to widespread abuse,” Citizen Lab, part of the University of Toronto, said in its report.

“This case demonstrates, yet again, that in the absence of any international safeguards or strong government export controls, spyware vendors will sell to government clients who will routinely abuse their services.”

We’re told that at least 764 domain names…