Hacker Group Claims German Government Built Backdoor Malware, Spying on Citizens | Talking Points Memo

Just days ago, the Chaos Computer Club announced that it had analyzed what it called a “Bundestrojaner” or “federal trojan” that the group believed had been developed and used by the German government. Security researchers at F-Secure Labs confirmed the malware’s capabilities, giving it the name “R2D2.” Now, state officials are confirming that the software is indeed state-sponsored. According to the Deutsche Welle, several German states have admitted late Monday to using the software for the past two years. The first to respond was Bavaria, followed by Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, and North Rhine-Westphalia. In their statements, several of the interior ministers for the states outlined the circumstances in which the trojans had been used, which generally characterize an infrequent and court-approved use of the tool. Some officials, including the Bavarian interior minister, say they will begin investigations into R2D2′s use. Germany’s Interior Minister said that the trojan has never been used as part of a federal investigation. Today, the German software company DigiTask confirmed that they created the program and have sold it to German clients as well as state and federal agencies in Austria, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The company says it made a sale to the Bavarian government in 2007, which public records show was worth $897,000 or €660,000. Further references to the software’s development have been traced to this WikiLeaks entry and these public documents. F-Secure labs notes that while they have been calling it R2D2, its installer is called scuinst.exe or Skype Capture Unit Installer. The malware has also been called “0zapftis” by other sources. Sparse reports are trickling in about the malware’s use in investigations, including this rather chilling story from the Deutsche-Welle:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://talkingpointsmemo.com/?p=105974