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New details leak about Gamma Group's PRISM-like spy gadgets made for police

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Hacker (STOCK)
Hacker (STOCK)

Product brochures from the secretive Gamma Group, a German-based company that makes surveillance equipment for law enforcement, have supposedly been leaked online. The brochures were published anonymously and their authenticity has not been verified, but they appear to explain some of Gamma's cutting-edge spy gear in further detail than was known before.

If real, this is James Bond-level stuff. One of the products is a body-worn device that can capture the unique identifier of a person's cell phone and use that to track the target's whereabouts. Another device, described by Ars Technica, can monitor the target's text messages and even deny service to phones that use the GSM network without alerting the target user. Other devices allow for live monitoring of calls.

This is James Bond-level stuff

The documents also describe Gamma's flagship spyware product, FinFisher, which is basically PRISM-lite for state and local law enforcement (and possibly the Australian Federal Police). Various products in the FinFisher suite can allegedly capture user names and passwords, monitor Skype calls, remotely turn on and record audio from the target computer's microphone, and even watch a target's screen in real time.

Gamma Group, along with its partner Elaman GmbH, is a pioneer in the relatively new market for commercial hacking software. Gamma's products allow law enforcement to hack into targets' computers and cell phones. They use many of the same techniques that sparked outrage in the context of the National Security Agency's PRISM program and in some cases go even further. According to the new documents, the company even offers training courses such as "FinTraining Intensive Basic Hacking Course."

FinFisher and Gamma are getting more scrutiny as the company grows, however. The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab identified FinFisher command and control centers in 11 countries. The software has been criticized for being used to target human rights activists, and the original source for the leaked documents has been pulled down due to the influx of traffic.