(CNN Business)An Italian company's hacking tools were utilized to spy connected Apple and Android smartphones successful Italy and Kazakhstan, Alphabet's Google said successful a study connected Thursday.
Milan-based RCS Lab, whose website claims European instrumentality enforcement agencies arsenic clients, developed tools to spy connected backstage messages and contacts of the targeted devices, the study said.
Google (GOOG)'s findings connected RCS Lab travel arsenic European and American regulators measurement imaginable caller rules implicit the merchantability and import of spyware.
"These vendors are enabling the proliferation of unsafe hacking tools and arming governments that would not beryllium capable to make these capabilities in-house," Google said.
Apple (AAPL) and the governments of Italy and Kazakhstan did not instantly respond to requests for comment.
RCS Lab said its products and services comply with European rules and assistance instrumentality enforcement agencies analyse crimes.
"RCS Lab unit are not exposed, nor enactment successful immoderate activities conducted by the applicable customers," it told Reuters successful an email, adding that it condemned immoderate maltreatment of its products.
Google said it had taken steps to support users of its Android operating strategy and alerted them astir the spyware.
The planetary manufacture making spyware for governments has been growing, with much and much companies processing interception tools for instrumentality enforcement organizations. Anti-surveillance activists impeach them of aiding governments that successful immoderate cases are utilizing specified tools to ace down connected quality rights and civilian rights.
The manufacture came nether a planetary spotlight erstwhile the Israeli surveillance steadfast NSO's Pegasus spyware was successful caller years recovered to person been utilized by aggregate governments to spy connected journalists, activists, and dissidents.
While RCS Lab's instrumentality whitethorn not beryllium arsenic stealthy arsenic Pegasus, it tin inactive work messages and presumption passwords, said Bill Marczak, a information researcher with integer watchdog Citizen Lab.
"This shows that adjacent though these devices are ubiquitous, there's inactive a agelong mode to spell successful securing them against these almighty attacks," helium added.
On its website, RCS Lab describes itself arsenic a shaper of "lawful interception" technologies and services including voice, information postulation and "tracking systems." It says it handles 10,000 intercepted targets regular successful Europe alone.
Google researchers recovered RCS Lab had antecedently collaborated with the controversial, defunct Italian spy steadfast Hacking Team, which had likewise created surveillance bundle for overseas governments to pat into phones and computers.
Hacking Team went bust aft it became a unfortunate of a large hack successful 2015 that led to a disclosure of galore interior documents.
In immoderate cases, Google said it believed hackers utilizing RCS spyware worked with the target's net work provider, which suggests they had ties to government-backed actors, said Billy Leonard, a elder researcher astatine Google.