The Ins and Outs of Hacking Software
December 23, 2015
Hacking software is and could be a potential problem. While some government agencies, hacktivist organizations, and software companies are trying to use it for good, terrorist groups, digital thieves, and even law enforcement agencies can use it to spy and steal data from individuals. The Technology Review shares some interesting stories about how software is being used for benign and harmful purposes in “The Growth Industry Helping Governments Hack Terrorists, Criminals, And Political Opponents.”
The company Hacking Team is discussed at length and its Remote Control System software, which can worm its way through security holes in a device and steal valuable information. Governments from around the globe have used the software for crime deterrence and to keep tabs on enemies, but other entities used the software for harmful acts including spying and hacking into political opponents computers.
Within the United States, it is illegal to use a Remote Control System without proper authority, but often this happens:
“When police get access to new surveillance technologies, they are often quickly deployed before any sort of oversight is in place to regulate their use. In the United States, the abuse of Stingrays—devices that sweep up information from cell phones in given area—has become common. For example, the sheriff of San Bernardino County, near Los Angeles, deployed them over 300 times without a warrant in the space of less than two years. That problem is only being addressed now, years after it emerged, with the FBI now requiring a warrant to use Stingrays, and efforts underway to force local law enforcement to do the same. It’s easy to imagine a similar pattern of abuse with hacking tools, which are far more powerful and invasive than other surveillance technologies that police currently use.”
It is scary how the software is being used and how governments are skirting around its own laws to use it. It reminds me of how gun control is always controversial topic. Whenever there is a mass shooting, debates rage about how the shooting would never had happened if there was stricter gun control to keep weapons out of the hands of psychopaths. While the shooter was blamed for the incident, people also place a lot of blame on the gun, as if it was more responsible. As spying, control, and other software becomes more powerful and ingrained in our lives, I imagine there will be debates about “software control” and determining who has the right to use certain programs.