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Spyware maker FinSpy suspected of illegal activity


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Jan 28, 2016
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The German authorities raided FinFisher on suspicion of illegally selling software abroad.

Officials from the German Customs Bureau of Investigation (Zollkriminalamt, ZKA) raided the offices of the Munich-based FinFisher, the manufacturer of the infamous commercial spyware FinSpy. The search was allegedly based on suspicions of illegal sale of software abroad without a permit.

By order of the Munich prosecutor's office, on October 6-8 this year, ZKA employees conducted searches at 15 sites in Munich - the commercial premises of FinFisher itself, two of its partners and the private properties of executive directors. In addition, the premises of the partner company in Romania were searched.

FinSpy is an extremely powerful tracking software used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world. However, the program is also often used by oppressive and other dubious regimes to harass journalists, activists and political dissidents.

FinSpy spyware is designed for both mobile (Android, iOS) and desktop platforms (Windows, macOS, and Linux distributions). It allows its operators to quietly turn on the camera and microphone on the infected device, record everything the victim types on the keyboard, intercept calls, and steal confidential information.

According to German broadcasters Bayerischer Rundfunk and Norddeutscher Rundfunk, FinFisher illegally sells FinSpy to other countries without a corresponding export license issued by the federal government. In this regard, the Munich prosecutor's office is investigating a possible violation of the Foreign Trade Act by the managing directors and employees of FinFisher.

In 2015, a requirement was introduced across Europe to obtain permission to export FinSpy to non-EU countries. However, even after the federal government did not issue any export licenses, in 2017 spyware was found on a Turkish website and was also used in Egypt to spy on non-governmental organizations.