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Ethiopian Government Uses Cyber-Attacks to Restrict Media Houses

Thehill.com reported during second week of March 2015 stating that the Ethiopian government is using cyber attacks to try to stop news from reaching to its citizens.

Researchers of the University of Toronto discovered attempts by the Ethiopian government to hack the computers of journalists based at US who are working with Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT).

Ethiopian journalists who left their home country after being subjected to criminal charges and government threats are running an independent news outlet.

During November and December of 2014, researchers say that digital attackers tried to place spyware on the computers of two employees of ESAT in Washington, D.C. The software would have allowed the hackers to steal files and passwords and also capture all calls in Skype and instant messages.

The cyberattackers tried to penetrate the computers with a fake email with an enclosed Microsoft Word Document containing the malicious spyware.

Citizen Lab analysed the attacks thoroughly and suggested that attacks were conducted with a spyware known as Remote Control System (RCS) sold by an Italian Hacking Team which sells hacking and surveillance technology.

This spyware was supposedly used in December 2013 in trying to infect systems of ESAT employees. If the spyware is installed successfully on the computer of the target, it would allow the government to control the software access to activity on the PC or phone including files, email, typed passwords on the device, contact lists, audio and video from the gadget's microphone and camera.

Citizen Lab also discovered that the spyware which was used in attacking ESAT seems to have been updated recently in December 2014.

The Ethiopian government did not directly answer questions about usage of products of Hacking Team for the purpose of spying.

Washingtonpost.com published news during second week of March 2015 quoting a statement of Tesfaye Wolde Ambassador of Ethiopia in Washington as "Ethiopia acts according to its own laws and with the laws of nations."

Washingtonpost.com published news during second week of March 2015 quoting Eric Rabe, Spokesperson of the company, as saying "Hacking Team investigates the allegations of the abuse. If we find that an agency is misusing our technology, we can take many actions and even withdraw our support from the system."

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