The CEO of Hacking Team has come out to defend his firm's behavior after a hack exposed the company's dirty laundry for all to see. In an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa, David Vincenzetti said that his software was used to "fight the criminals" that are "operating on the border between the state of law and lawlessness." He went on to say that the company was relatively harmless since it doesn't "sell guns that could be used for years," and added that "we're the good guys." Sure thing, buddy.
Hacking Team produces Da Vinci, a platform that enables governments to monitor encrypted communications. The technology is used by law enforcement officials to read your email, listen in to your Skype chats and secretly watch you via your own webcam or smartphone camera. Last week, it fell victim to a hack (the irony) and 400GB of its internal data was posted to Wikileaks, which is where the trouble really started.
Vincenzetti himself believes that the attack was carried out "at the governmental level" by someone with "significant resources" and that it had been "planned for months." He refused to point a finger in any specific direction, but he's fairly sure it wasn't a publicly-minded citizen grinding code in their basement.
Skeezy software aside, Hacking Team's other objectionable trait is its client list, which reads like a Who's Who of totalitarian regimes. The firm has sold pernicious spying software to countries like Ethopia, Honduras and Uzbekistan, all three are known to imprison, torture and kill journalists and community leaders that disagree with the government.
Call us old-fashioned, but if you're hanging around with people who normally have the phrase "serial human rights abuser" written before their names, you might feel a little guilty. Not so for Vincenzetti, who defended working with Libya, saying that "we did it when suddenly it seemed that the Libyans had become our best friends." He added that "geopolitics changes rapidly and situations evolve," which could be the new motto for the department of moral relativism.
On the other hand, the CEO did say that the company stopped doing business with Ethopia when it transpired that the country had been used to spy on a journalist. So, er, good job?