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Detekting Surveillance Software

Human Rights organisations develop their own anti-spy program
Nicole Billitz
Detekting Surveillance Software© 2017 Flickr - nolifebeforecoffee

 Detekt can scan a device to detect whether there are traces of surveillance software.

On Wednesday, human rights organizations Amnesty International, Privacy International, Digitale Gesellschaft, and Electronic Frontier Foundation launched the latest tech tool in the cyberwar for privacy, a program called Detekt. Detekt can scan a device to detect whether there are traces of surveillance software.

Designed to spot spying software used by governments and organized groups so as to circumvent human rights activists, political opponents or journalists, Detekt has been in development for the past two years. A collaboration between all four organizations, the program scans the hard drive while the computer is not in use. Currently it is open source and available only for Windows. The main researcher on the team is Claudio Guarnieri, a security researcher that has been investigating government spyware and it’s limitations. The program is designed to detect malware developed by commercial firms, as well as cybercriminal designed, such as BlackShades RAT (Remote Access Tool) and Gh0st RAT.

Designed to spot spying software used by governments and organized groups so as to circumvent human rights activists, political opponents or journalists, Detekt has been in development for the past two years.

Unfortunately, Detekt is only a scanner. Which means that should the user find malware, Detekt cannot yet remove it. It’s also still in it’s infancy, which means it cannot detect all issues. Some critics question the efficiency of the program, as spyware is constantly being updated. However, Guarnieri contends that so will the open source program.

However, for the purpose of the main target group of users, Detekt offers tool of protection against the seemingly uphill battle.

Amnesty wrote in their statement on Thursday, "Our ultimate aim is for human rights defenders, journalists and civil society groups to be able to carry out their legitimate work without fear of surveillance, harassment, intimidation, arrest or torture”.

 

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