WikiLeaks' Spy Files shed light on the corporate side of government surveillance

WikiLeaks' latest batch of documents hit the web this week, providing the world with a scarily thorough breakdown of a thoroughly scary industry -- government surveillance. The organization's trove, known as the Spy Files, includes a total of 287 files on surveillance products from 160 companies, as well as secret brochures and presentations that these firms use to market their technologies to government agencies. As Ars Technica reports, many of these products are designed to get around standard privacy guards installed in consumer devices, while some even act like malware. DigiTask, for example, is a German company that produces and markets software capable of circumventing a device's SSL encryption and transmitting all instant messages, emails and recorded web activity to clients (i.e., law enforcement agencies). This "remote forensic software" also sports keystroke logging capabilities, and can capture screenshots, as well. Included among DigiTask's other products is the WifiCatcher -- a portable device capable of culling data from users linked up to a public WiFi network. US-based SS8, Italy's Hacking Team and France's Vupen produce similar Trojan-like malware capable of documenting a phone or computer's "every use, movement, and even the sights and sounds of the room it is in," according to the publication.

Speaking at City University in London yesterday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said his organization decided to unleash the Spy Files as "a mass attack on the mass surveillance industry," adding that the technologies described could easily transform participating governments into a "totalitarian surveillance state." The documents, released on the heels of the Wall Street Journal's corroborative "Surveillance Catalog" report, were published alongside a preface from WikiLeaks, justifying its imperative to excavate such an "unregulated" industry. "Intelligence agencies, military forces, and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and [sic] secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers," wrote Wikileaks in its report. "In the last ten years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm." The organization says this initial document dump is only the first in a larger series of related files, scheduled for future release. You can comb through them for yourself, at the source link below.