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Mozilla Fights Against Spyware Company and its Exploits
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Mozilla, maker of Firefox, the world’s most popular web browser, has a problem. Gamma International Ltd. is passing off a product that looks and acts like Firefox, but which is really a cleverly written spyware application. Gamma’s product, FinFisher, is capable of keylogging, recording Skype calls, and even converting webcams and cell phones into surveillance devices. The extent to how far such products have disseminated is unclear, but lately they’ve gone so far as to identifying their own processes as “Firefox.exe,” including a version number, and including trademark claims.

Such abusive exploitation of Firefox’s open source web browser has alarmed the company. “We are sending Gamma, The FinFisher parent company, a cease and desist letter demanding that these practices be stopped immediately,” said Mozilla executive Alex Fowler.

  
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“As an open source project trusted by hundreds of millions of people around the world, defending Mozilla’s trademark from this type of abuse is vital to our brand, our users, and the continued success of our mission,” said Alex Fowler on a blog Tuesday.

Selling spyware at a company level seems like risky business as it is, and Gamma, a company based in Andover, England, has received its fair share of criticism, not least for its connection to being used by repressive regimes such as those in Arab revolutions. A sales pitch was discovered in an Egyptian state security building in 2011. Citizen Lab is a research group based in Toronto that has investigated how far such malware has disseminated. They’ve discovered FinFisher servers in 36 countries and found the virus in such documents and news updates from Bahrain and photographs of Ethiopian opposition figures, as the Associated Press reported. Its use by governments to control dissent gives it all the earmarks for the despicable software it is.

Hijacking the world’s number one browser, and not as some basement hacker, but as a supposed legitimate software company, is ballsy, because it means they are going to face inevitable legal repercussions for their efforts. The company has been called one of five “corporate enemies of the Internet” by Reporters Without Borders. Certainly few people would wish to protect their right to perform this sort of nefarious scheming that’s crashed our systems and exposed our credit card numbers to who knows what criminals. They seem, in fact, the perfect target for some harsh litigation.

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As Simon Ayrton, a partner at specialist intellectual property law firm Powell Gilbert said, “I’d be surprised if FinFisher attracted much sympathy from the court.”





 

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