Spy code creator kills project after Syrian abuse
Published: 10th Jul 2012 13:13:27
Widely used security software has been discontinued after its creator discovered the Syrian government was using it to spy on its opponents.
The "disgusting" way the DarkComet Remote Admin Tool (Rat) was being used in Syria had led to its production being halted, said Jean-Pierre Lesueur.
He said his intention had only ever been to produce tools that were better than those commercially available.
Experts welcomed DarkComet's demise, saying the Rat was being widely abused.
Syria's use of the tool emerged earlier this year as the government sought to keep tabs on opponents in the country's ongoing civil conflict.
Once DarkComet is installed on a target PC it allows remote access to that machine and can log any activity on it.
The Syrian government attempted to use this function of the Rat by trying to trick its opponents into opening a booby-trapped Skype chat message.
In a message posted to the DarkComet website, Mr Lesueur said he was ending the project after four years of work because of the widespread "misuse of the tool".
He said it was never his intention for the tool to be used by hacker groups and he did not want to be held responsible for what people, and governments, had done with DarkComet.
Mr Lesueur said he would continue working in computer security but only on projects that could not be turned to malicious ends.
The decision to shut down DarkComet means there will be no future versions, but nothing has been done to remove copies of the programs already in use.
Rik Ferguson, director of security research in Europe for Trend Micro, said he and many other professionals had used DarkComet for penetration testing and malware detection but not as a management tool.
However, he said, the overwhelming use of DarkComet was by those with malicious or dubious intentions. He said some of the tool's menu items and functions made it hard to believe it was intended entirely for legitimate use.
"It was no surprise to hear of the Syrian regime using this Rat to spy on their population," Mr Ferguson told the BBC. "It follows in the grand tradition of using Rats in targeted, politically motivated attacks such as LuckyCat, Gh0stnet and Shadownet."
He added: "It's not often you can welcome the demise of anything, however, let's hope DarkComet is only the first Rat to take the poison."
At 04:44:44 in HeadlinesFrom the moment a gust of wind blew the skirt of the duchess up, to the smiling baby prince and the cheering fans, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been treated like celebrities in New Zealand.
At 04:24:59 in HealthBowel cancer screening uptake needs to improve, campaigners say, after figures showed just over half of those eligible in England come forward for the test.
At 04:21:00 in HeadlinesThe European Parliament is voting on a bill to draw up a blacklist to fight invasive alien species such as killer shrimp and Japanese knotweed spreading.
At 04:16:11 in EnglandBefore being sent to the Western Front, thousands of new recruits were sent to a training camp to prepare them for trench warfare. However, campaigners now fear the remains of this World War One heritage face being irreparably damaged.
At 04:08:14 in EnglandMusic at a UB40 concert was so loud it was "altering heart rhythms" and caused a fan's ear to bleed, it has been claimed.
At 04:00:16 in HeadlinesParents will find out whether they have got their preferred primary school place, as for the first time a National Offer Day allocates places across England on the same day.
At 03:36:11 in BusinessChina's economy expanded by 7.4% in the first quarter of the year, better than what many were expecting.
At 02:55:07 in HeadlinesBirds can learn to choose the best building materials for their nests, according to scientists.
At 02:53:20 in HeadlinesA ferry with about 450 people on board is sinking off the south-west coast of South Korea, coastguard officials say.
At 02:28:43 in BusinessThe US has told China its currency must be allowed to rise if it and the global economy are to see stable growth.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Spy code creator kills project after Syrian abuse [Online] (Updated 10th Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1439719/Spy-code-creator-kills-project-after-Syrian-abuse [Accessed 16th Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
Claims that Aberdeen City Council's administration broke the rules by including a pro-Better Together letter to council tax payers have been thrown out by an independent watchdog.
Police have appealed for witnesses after two people were seriously injured in vehicle collisions.
Before being sent to the Western Front, thousands of new recruits were sent to a training camp to prepare them for trench warfare. However, campaigners now fear the remains of this World War One heritage face being irreparably damaged.
Bowel cancer screening uptake needs to improve, campaigners say, after figures showed just over half of those eligible in England come forward for the test.
China's economy expanded by 7.4% in the first quarter of the year, better than what many were expecting.
Fifty years ago this weekend, BBC Two went on the air for the first time. Or rather, it was supposed to go on the air. In fact, a massive power cut wiped out the entire launch schedule and led to one of the most disastrous nights in broadcasting history.