Hacking Team Founder: ‘Hacking Team is Dead’

The company's former CEO posted a bizarre obituary on LinkedIn saying the infamous surveillance firm is "definitely dead."
May 26, 2020, 7:25pm
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Image: Hacking Team/YouTube

The founder and former CEO of the infamous surveillance technology company Hacking Team wrote a bizarre obituary for his old company on its official LinkedIn account.

A screenshot of the LinkedIn post.

David Vincenzetti posted a short message saying “Hacking Team is dead” on Tuesday, more than a year after the Italian company was acquired by another cybersecurity firm and rebranded as Memento Labs. As Motherboard reported earlier this year, Memento Labs is struggling to take off after several key Hacking Team employees have left, slowing down the development of new products that it would need to compete with companies such as NSO Group.

Vincenzetti did not respond to a request for comment via email. Paolo Lezzi, the CEO of Memento Labs, also did not immediately reply to an email asking for comment.

While Hacking Team has formally ceased to exist when it got acquired and rebranded in 2019, Vincenzetti’s post is the last nail in the coffin, and the final chapter in the company’s fall from grace. Hacking Team was founded in 2003, and was among the very first companies to focus solely on developing software designed to hack and spy on computers, and later mobile phones.

Do you work at Memento Labs or another similar company? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact you can contact Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, OTR chat at lorenzofb@jabber.ccc.de, or email lorenzofb@vice.com

The company was one of the pioneers of the so-called lawful intercept industry, a market where firms provide these kinds of tools exclusively to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In the 2000s, Hacking Team went from selling only to Italian agencies to selling to Spain’s national intelligence agency, and later to cops and spies in 41 different countries in its heyday in 2015. That year, a hacktivist known as Phineas Fisher broke into Hacking Team’s servers, stole gigabytes of sensitive data and posted it online, dealing the company with what would eventually become a deadly blow.

Claudio Guarnieri, a security researcher that was among the very first to discover Hacking Team’s malware at the beginning of the last decade reacted to the post with irony.

“So long and thanks for all the phish,” he said in an online chat, using the infosec lingo for phishing attacks, one of the most popular methods used by Hacking Team customers to hack targets.

A former employee previously told Motherboard that Hacking Team without Vincenzetti is “like Nirvana without Kurt Cobain.”

“Poor Vincenzetti,” the former employee said. “He’s flipping out. I’m really sorry to see him like this.”

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.

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