The U.S law-enforcement officials are said to be expanding the use of various tools that are periodically adopted by computer hackers in order to get information on suspects, thus bringing the art of criminal wiretapping to the age of cyber technology, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Naturally, the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies have been mum on these capabilities. However, formal documents in court and interviews from those that are involved in the program show new details on the tools used for hacking which includes delivering spyware to PCs and phones by through email or web links. These attacking techniques are then commonly associated with those attacks done by criminals.
Qualified people that are familiar with the programs of the FBI have admitted that the use of hacking tools under court orders have expanded through the times as the agents find a way to keep up with suspected hackers. These hackers employ new communications technology which includes certain types of online chat and encryption generating tools.
The use of these forms of communication that bars agency-run wiretapping is termed as ‘going dark’ as far as law enforcement is concerned.
The agency internally develops some tools for hacking while other tools are purchased from the private sector. Using the technology allows the bureau to activate remotely and surreptitiously the phone’s microphone supported by Google’s Android software. After a successful activation, the bureau can then start recording conversations. The same thing also applies with laptops that have microphones.
The bureau performs hacking activities on special cases that involve child pornography, organized crime, and counterterrorism. It hesitates to use the said tools when they are investigating hackers, fearing that the pursued suspect will find out about it and make it publicly known.
Incidentally, the FBI has been in the hacking tool development project for more than 10 years. It has rarely revealed its techniques to the public whenever it’s on a legal case.