Google Says Apple, Android Phones Targeted by Italian Spyware

Daniel Attoe
Daniel Attoe

Updated · Jun 24, 2022

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A report published by Google’s threat analysis group on Thursday found that RCS Labs developed tools for spying on private information.

Spyware

Google has confirmed that an Italian company’s hacking tools were used to spy on Apple and Android smartphones in Italy and Kazakhstan. 

The tech giant’s threat analysis group (TAG) announced this in a report on Thursday. It said the company, called RCS Lab, employed a “combination of tactics, including drive-by downloads as initial infection vectors” to target users on both operating systems. 

Spyware is a type of malware that aids the covert gathering of information on a device by a hacker

According to TAG, the company spread the Hermit spyware by sending a unique link to the target.

“Once clicked, the page attempted to get the user to download and install a malicious application on either Android or iOS,” it said. “In some cases, we believe the actors worked with the target’s ISP to disable the target’s mobile data connectivity.”

Afterward, the hacker would send a malicious link to the targets through SMS. To recover their data, they were instructed to install an application on their smartphones.

The report mirrors accusations made against Israeli-based firm NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. In April, researchers at Citizen Lab exposed the use of the malware on employees in the UK’s Prime Minister’s office.

Google added that it has moved to protect users of the Android operating system.

Not Involved

Milan-based RCS Lab has denied any involvement with malicious hacking activities. It asserted that it complies with European cybersecurity regulations.

“RCS Lab personnel are not exposed, nor participate in any activities conducted by the relevant customers,” it said to Reuters. 

The company claims that its clients are exclusively law enforcement agencies across Europe.

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Daniel Attoe

Daniel Attoe

Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.

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