The German Federal government has approved the use of a “federal Trojan” for investigative purposes by state intelligence and security agencies, according to an announcement made by a spokesman for the German interior ministry.
The news was announced on Monday that the usage of Trojans had been authorized to monitor suspected citizens, and it could be put to use as early as this week.
According to the Federal Data Protection Commissioner, Andrea Vosshoff, testing of the software has already been completed and will be used to follow and monitor the actions and movements of suspected criminal and terrorist groups and individuals.
Trojan software? Isn’t that supposed to be bad news?
Yes, it is normally.
I suppose it’s approval by the Interior Ministry can either be viewed as a reasonable common sense law enforcement initiative, or a Big Brother like overreach encroachment into the everyday lives of German citizens.
Whatever your viewpoint, Trojan horse software is by its very nature, malicious, and traditionally disguised as part of some innocent looking process or app. Quite how the German government Trojan will work hasn’t been explained, but it will no doubt function like a normal Trojan once on suspects devices. It will allow security and intelligence agencies access to myriad sources of information and be able to record keystrokes, browse files, and also monitor the microphone on devices.
In order for German authorities to use the spy software legally, they will have to first at least obtain a court order, and prove that suspects are involved in criminal activity that threatens citizens’ “life, limb, or liberty.”
Who made it for the Germans? I demand to know!
The Trojan software was developed by FinFisher Gamma-International, a company based in both the UK, and Germany. They specialize in developing spyware for governments and law enforcement agencies around the world.
The company, or rather the company’s software has been mired in several controversial moments in recent years. Their software has been used by oppressive regimes. Egypt were synonymous with the use of FinFisher’s spyware during the Arab Spring, and other countries such as Indonesia and Bahrain are also said to employ the software.