Turkish people who went online to download some of the most popular software available on the market instead received government spyware, according to a report.
“Since last fall, Turkish internet users attempting to download one of a handful of popular apps may have been the unwitting targets of a wide-reaching computer surveillance campaign,” reported CBC News, Friday. “And in Egypt, users across the country have, seemingly at random, had their browsing activity mysteriously redirected to online money-making schemes.”
The revelations were published in a report from Canada’s Citizen Lab, which explains how Canadian networking equipment company Sandvine is having its equipment used to deploy government spyware on Turkish citizens’ devices.
“The researchers say it’s likely that Sandvine devices are not only being used to block the websites of news, political and human rights organizations, but are also surreptitiously redirecting users toward spyware and unwanted ads,” CBC explained. “Using network-filtering devices to sneak spyware onto targets’ computers ‘has long been the stuff of legends’ according to the report — a practice previously documented in leaked NSA documents and spyware company brochures, the researchers say, but never before publicly observed.”
It has been reported that “there were signs that Kurdish forces aligned with the United States might have been targeted,” prompting some to worry about the foreign policy implications of a Canadian tech company inadvertently aiding attacks on U.S. allies.
In a statement, Citizen Lab director Ron Deibert declared, “These companies are not closely regulated — and that can lead to a lot of unintended consequences, including consequences that harm our foreign policy interests and human rights interest as well.”
“It’s a strong argument for government control over this kind of technology,” he continued.
In response to Citizen Lab’s report, Sandvine claimed the allegations were “technically inaccurate and intentionally misleading,” but added, “Once we have the necessary data, we will conduct a full investigation and take appropriate action.”