CHAPTER 12Criticism of Offensive Cybertechnology

On April 6, 2014, a new account appeared on Twitter, called Phineas Fisher. Its Twitter handle was @GammaGroupPR, which misleadingly suggested that it was the official press office of Gamma Group. It tweeted, “Get your free trial of FinSpy Mobile!” with a link to a website hosting a treasure trove of 40 GB of information, including client lists, a price list, source code, details about the effectiveness of its malware, and information used for training and customer support.1 Years later, it was reported that Gamma Group had sold its holdings in FinFisher back in 2013, but the parent company was still identified with the spyware at the time.

“Phineas Fisher” claimed he had proof that Gamma Group's technology had been sold to the Bahraini government to spy on Bahraini activists during the Arab Spring of 2011, and that this was what made him decide to hack the company's servers and leak its information.2 Gamma Group, the cyberexpert that had just become the victims of a cyberattack, suffered a major blow to its reputation. The company was forced to rewrite the sections of code that had been leaked, to deal with a lawsuit from Bahraini activists claiming that its program had been used to spy on them, and on top of all that, to grapple with a British government report claiming that the company had violated Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and Development (OECD) guidelines on “responsible business conduct.”3 Despite all this, ...

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