According to Google, an Italian company, RCS Lab uses hacking tools to spy on Apple and Android smartphones in Italy and Kazakhstan.
Google researchers also found that RCS Lab had previously worked with the controversial, now-defunct Italian spy firm Hacking Team, which had previously developed surveillance software for foreign governments to tap into phones and computers.
“These vendors are enabling the proliferation of dangerous hacking tools and arming governments that would not be able to develop these capabilities in-house,” Google said.
RCS Lab therefore joins the global industry making spyware for governments by developing interception tools for law enforcement. RCS Lab claims that its products and services comply with European rules and help law enforcement agencies investigate crime.
Google has warned Android users about the spyware and the company is also taking steps to protect users of its Android operating system. Apple has revoked all known accounts and certificates related to the hacking campaign.
Billy Leonard, a senior researcher at Google, believes that hackers using RCS spyware in some cases work with the target’s service provider, suggesting links to state-backed actors.