Over the past year, the growing computer surveillance industry has made great strides in creating software that may encourage computer users to unknowingly install surveillance viruses on their personal machines.
Gamma International UK Ltd., a surveillance company, recently touted its ability to send messages to individuals claiming that an update is needed to software on their computers mimicking messages from Apple, Adobe and other software providers, according to The Wall Street Journal. When users download the update, their computer is infected with surveillance software; the sender of the software is then able to track everything that is done on the machine.
The news outlet reports that Gamma’s products are not unique, but part of a growing trend in surveillance technology used by governments — and sometimes criminals — to obtain computer users’ information. The providers of the hacking software say that it is a necessary tool in the fight against terror.
The article says that many privacy experts believe that the software is being heavily marketed to low-level law enforcement agencies. The experts say that is cause for concern. As more people obtain the hacking software, the opportunity for abuse grows.
“The use of this technology represents a huge encroachment on civil rights and could only be justified during the most serious national security investigations,” said Eric King, of the U.K. nonprofit Privacy International.
The Journal has begun a new series of special reports called “The Surveillance Catalog” that documents a number of growing trends in the cybersurveillance industry.