Free tool detects ‘government surveillance spyware’

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Free software that can detect the presence of surveillance spyware has
been launched by a global coalition of human rights and tech

Organizations including Amnesty International, Privacy International,
Digitale Gesellschaft and Electronic Frontier Foundation have teamed up
to unveil the open source tool Detekt.

Detekt, they say, is the first publicly available tool that spots
surveillance spyware that has been “increasingly” used by governments to
read private emails and remotely turn on a computer’s camera or
microphone to secretly record activities.

The tool was developed by German security researcher Claudio Guarnier,
who was part of the team that first identified that the commercially
available FinFisher spyware sold to law enforcement and governments had
been found running on computers all over the world.

According to Guarnier, the goal of Detekt is not to create a generic
malware detector but a “free and open source utility for human rights
workers and concerned citizens to try to detect the potential presence
of spyware we've observed being used against civil society”.

Guarnier told BetaNews: “The tool is a utility, but it's also a message
and an attempt to raise awareness on the issue of governments’ abuse of
largely misunderstood and unregulated surveillance technologies.
Hopefully people will engage and initiate a debate before it's too late
to change anything”.

Earlier this year, WikiLeaks released copies of surveillance software
developed by German company FinFisher, which it said would ‘help the
tech community build tools to protect people from it’.

A recent study from Candian-based researchers Citizen Lab claimed that
software developed by FinFisher, which used to be part of UK-based Gamma
International before its relocation to Germany, had been used to spy on
prominent human rights lawyers and activists in Bahrain. FinFisher
command and control servers have been found in 35 countries, including
Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, Bahrain, and Malaysia.

According to Amnesty International, Detekt is a “strike back against
governments who are using information obtained through surveillance to
arbitrarily detain, illegally arrest and even torture human rights
defenders and journalists”.

Marek Marczynski, head of military, security and police at Amnesty,
said: “Detekt is a great tool which can help activists stay safe but
ultimately, the only way to prevent these technologies from being used
to violate or abuse human rights is to establish and enforce strict
controls on their use and trade.”

While launching the tool, the coalition has also called on governments
to implement strict controls on the use and trade of surveillance
technologies. It wants national authorities to assess the risk that the
surveillance equipment would be used to violate human rights before
authorising any transfer, in a similar manner to how the arms trade is

Prof Alan Woodward, a security expert at the University of Surrey, said
the launch of Detekt is a welcome development, but more for the messages
it sends rather than how effective it might be in the long term.

“It’s always good to have tools that can detect if anyone is spying on
you, criminals or governments, and it’s great that it is free,” Westwood
told BetaNews. “However, I don't really know what this is doing that
many other pieces of security software don't do”.

“Other security products are constantly updated as malware of all kinds
evolves rapidly and so you need to keep your definitions up to date.
What they are saying is that the public can trust them, which is great,
but developing, distributing and, most importantly, maintaining such
software is a nontrivial task so can the public trust them to apply the
substantial amount of ongoing required?”

But Detekt developer Guarnier has dismissed comparisons with commercial
security software. He said: "Antivirus software is rigorously evaded
every time this kind of spyware is released and used. We are using
detection techniques that have proved to be successful up to this point,
and the goal is to provide it to the public and have the quickest and
largest adoption possible."

"I want to empower just about anyone, the ones that do not have
resources to acquire noisy and intrusive security software and the ones
that are perhaps even prevented from buying any due to economic
embargoes," continues Guarnier. "I'm not really interested in drawing a
comparison with security vendors, they have a different audience and a
different scope. I'm interested in empowering the people with a choice
to opt out from surveillance. What companies are doing for profit does
not interest me".

You can download Detekt here:

Or here:

VT scan:

File name:  DETEKT.EXE
Detection ratio: 0/55
Analysis date:     2014-11-20 03:07:29 UTC (1 minute ago)


Re: Free tool detects ‘government surveilla nce spyware’

Thank you for your informative post, Virus Guy

My cynical response is ....... if this is so important, why is the  
facility only open to the users of *Windows* machines?!!

Have you even considered that this super free software might be loading  
a spyware programme ON to your machine?

Just a thought! ;-)

The only people who make a difference are the people who believe they can!

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