Police-backed malware maker Hacking Team admits it was hacked

The Milan, Italy-based "Hacking Team," a company that hit headlines last year when it was discovered that the team created malware for use by law enforcement in examining texts, calls, and pictures on people's smartphones, has admitted that it was hacked. Purportedly, at least 400GB of program source code, internal documents, and emails have been made public, and the firm's Twitter feed and website were hijacked.

Although hackers are often portrayed as terrorists, thieves, and extortionists, the hackers in this case appear to be more of the vigilante variety, intent on giving Hacking Team a taste of its own medicine. At least on the surface.

All of the information the hackers copied off of Hacking Team computers was published online in a torrent file. They also changed the company's Twitter handle to read "Hacked Team," and posted a message that read:

"Since we have nothing to hide, we've published all our e-mails, files and source," followed by a link to the torrent file and a Mega download link. The tweet has since been removed and Hacking Team is now back in charge of its social networking, though its website is still down for the time being.

The fallout from this hack may be just beginning. From the file dump, it's become clear that Hacking Team was selling its software and services to more than just European nations. It appears that it was also supplying South Korea, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, Ecuador, Chile, Columbia, the United States, UAE, Singapore, and many other countries, including Sudan. This goes against previous claims by Hacking Team that it had never done business with Sudan.

CSO has some more of the details that are emerging as people dig through the torrent file, not least a personal thank you and a large payment from a foundation linked with the Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi, appreciating Hacking Team's help in acquiring a high profile target.

At this time, those behind the hack of Hacking Team's systems remain unknown.