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Spyware on the rise despite U.S. and Google efforts

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Spyware remains a lucrative business that operates largely unchecked by government oversight, despite attempts to combat the growing digital surveillance industry.

Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) recently released a report shedding light on commercial surveillance vendors (CSVs).

Focus on CSVs by U.S. and Google

These CSVs worsen cybercrime when their tools fall into the wrong hands or are obtained for the right price.

Google monitors forty such surveillance tools used by government clients and their activities are detailed in the report.

The TAG report revealed that almost half of the ‘0-Day’ exploits affecting Google and Android devices originate from software developed by spyware entities.

A ‘0-Day’ exploit refers to a system vulnerability that has not been identified, giving developers zero days to fix the weakness.

Over the past year, TAG identified 25 0-day exploits, with 20 attributed to software created by CSVs.

Google suggests that it is time for government, industry, and civil society to collaborate to change the incentives driving the spread of these technologies.

Recently, the White House issued an Executive Order prohibiting the use of commercial spyware that threatens national security.

Additionally, an international joint statement involving eleven nations was released in March 2024, signaling a unified stance against commercial spyware developers worldwide.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, announced visa restrictions for individuals involved in commercial spyware misuse to address the growing concerns.

Both Google and the U.S. government are committed to curtailing the impact of CSVs on U.S. citizens and global users, underscoring their dedication to safeguarding human rights and holding wrongdoers accountable.

Efforts to combat spyware continue, with ongoing vigilance required to mitigate its presence in the digital landscape.

Featured image: Dall-E

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