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Ex-employees probed in attack on Italian surveillance firm

Milan prosecutors are investigating six former employees of cybersecurity firm Hacking Team in connection with a massive hack of its systems that saw huge chucks of its code stolen.

Hackers last week downloaded 400 gigabytes of data from the firm, which makes software that allows law enforcement and intelligence agencies to tap into the phones and computers of suspects. Much of the data, including thousands of private corporate emails, has since been dumped onto the WikiLeaks website.

Investigative sources said the six suspects had already been placed under investigation in a separate case for allegedly revealing the company’s industrial secrets, according to Reuters.

The company, named as one of five “Corporate Enemies of the Internet” in a 2012 report by Reporters Without Borders, has advised clients to stop using its programs until they can patch the compromised software. They have further warned that any computer system using the technology may now be vulnerable.

“Hacking Team’s investigation has determined that sufficient code was released to permit anyone to deploy the software against any target of their choice,” the company said in a statement on its website. “Terrorists, extortionists and others can deploy this technology at will if they have the technical ability to do so.”

The leaked emails show that the Hacking Team worked with numerous state institutions in various countries, including Italy, the USA and Australia, but it also had dealings with countries criticised for their human rights records, such as Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Vincenzetti has previously said a government might have been behind the hacking of the company’s systems.

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