A report released on Thursday by Alphabet Inc.’s Google revealed that a hacking tool created in Italy was used to spy on Apple Inc. and Android smartphone users in Kazakhstan and Italy.
The report claimed that RCS lab, a Milan-based company whose website lists European law enforcement agencies as clients, created tools to spy on the private messages and contacts of the targeted devices.
Regulators in Europe and America have been considering possible revisions to the laws governing the sale and import of spyware.
“These vendors are enabling the proliferation of dangerous hacking tools and arming governments that would not be able to develop these capabilities in-house,” Google said.
According to Billy Leonard, a senior researcher at Google, the hackers occasionally collaborated with the target’s ISP, which suggests that they had connections to the government.
Requests for comment from the governments of Italy and Kazakhstan were not immediately returned. According to a spokesperson for Apple, the company has cancelled all known accounts and certificates linked to this hacking campaign.
According to RCS lab, its goods and services are compliant with European regulations and support criminal investigations.
Government spyware has become a growing global industry in recent years. More and more businesses are being accused of supporting governments that, in some cases, use these tools to repress civil and human rights.
When it was discovered that numerous governments were using the Pegasus spyware from Israeli surveillance firm NSO to spy on journalists, activists, and dissidents, there was a widespread outcry against the industry.