US Bans Intellexa For Spying On Senator

March 22, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

One of the worst ideas in modern society is to spy on the United States. The idea becomes worse when the target is a US politician. Intellexa is a notorious company that designs software to hack smartphones and transform them into surveillance devices. NBC News reports how Intellexa’s software was recently used in an attempt to hack a US senator: “US Bans Maker Of Spyware That Targeted A Senator’s Phone.”

Intellexa designed the software Predator that once downloaded onto a phone turns it into a surveillance device. Predator can turn on a phone’s camera and microphone, track a user’s location, and download files. The US Treasure Department banned Intellexa from conducting business in the US and US citizens are banned from working with the company. These are the most aggressive sanctions the US has ever taken against a spyware company.

The official ban also targets Intellexa’s founder Tan Dilian, employee Sara Hamou, and four companies that are affiliated with it. Predator is also used by authoritarian governments to spy on journalists, human rights workers, and anyone deemed “suspicious:”

“An Amnesty International investigation found that Predator has been used to target journalists, human rights workers and some high-level political figures, including European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and Taiwan’s outgoing president, Tsai Ing-Wen. The report found that Predator was also deployed against at least two sitting members of Congress, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.”

John Scott-Railton is a senior spyware researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and he said the US Treasury’s sanctions will rock the spyware world. He added it could also inspire people to change their careers and leave countries.

Predator isn’t the only company that makes spyware. Hackers can also design their own then share it with other bad actors.

Whitney Grace, March 22, 2024


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