An online anti-surveillance crusader is back with a bang.
Last year, a hacker who only went by the name "PhineasFisher" hacked the controversial surveillance tech company Gamma International, a British-German surveillance company that sells the spyware software FinFisher. He then went on to leak more than 40GB of internal data from the company, which has been long criticized for selling to repressive governments.
That same hacker has now claimed responsibility for the breach of Hacking Team, an Italian surveillance tech company that sells a similar product called Remote Controlled System Galileo.
"I am the same person behind that hack."
On Sunday night, I reached out to the hacker while he was in control of Hacking Team's Twitter account via a direct message to @hackingteam. Initially, PhineasFisher responded with sarcasm, saying he was willing to chat because "we got such good publicity from your last story!" referring to a recent story I wrote about the company's CEO claiming to be able to crack the dark web.
He then went on to reference the story publicly on Twitter, posting a screenshot of an internal email which included the link to my story.
Afterwards, however, he also claimed that he was PhineasFisher. To prove it, he told me he would use the parody account he used last year to promote the FinFisher hack to claim responsibility.
"I am the same person behind that hack," he told me before coming out publicly.
The hacker, however, declined to answer to any further questions.
In any case, now at least we know who is responsible for the massive hack of the controversial company, which has been accused in repeated occasions to sell its software to governments with questionable human rights records. Some of these customers were then caught using Hacking Team's spyware against human rights activists or journalists.The leak of 400GB of internal files contains "everything," according to a person close to the company, who only spoke on condition of anonymity. The files contain internal emails between employees; a list of customers, including some, such as the FBI, that were previously unknown; and allegedly even the source code of Hacking Team's software, its crown jewels.