Beware of Babar: the spyware created by the French Secret Service
The NSA has made the news headlines a lot lately with frequent attempts to infringe on people’s privacy, but the US is not the only player in the game. French service DGSE is responsible for creating a spyware called Babar which was recently leaked by Edward Snowden. More details on the leak can be found here. This so called monitoring program was used against Iranian nuclear research institutes and universities, European financial institutions, former French colonies and a media organization in Canada.
An Elephant Problem
The malware Babar is named after Babar the elephant, the hero of a French children’s book series. However, its actions are far from heroic. The spyware Babar is capable of logging keystrokes, taking screenshots and even logging audio conversations through Skype and Yahoo, which is very disturbing. It also uses a Tor network to communicate secretly. Such features clearly indicate that the malware is pretty advanced and stealthy.
Babar was initially discovered by the Canadian intelligence agency CSEC and later brought into the spotlight when Snowden leaked the NSA documents. Reports suggest that this spyware may be a complete espionage tool and could have been used for various political reasons.
This clearly tells us that the internet is no child’s playground. It could easily turn into a cyber-war-zone with all these weapons around, and with so many possibilities, there are definitely a lot of things that could go terribly wrong. Babar is another example of government agencies actively using malware and hack tools to spy. Here is a list of other cute characters who now represent security problems.
Snowden once reported that the NSA were using iPhones to spy on users. Babar is very similar to the Regin malware family associated with GCHQ, the British Intelligence agency. Although it is almost impossible to prove who is behind Babar, one thing is for certain. The NSA and GCHQ are definitely not alone. Intelligence agencies all around the world are actively using malware and cyber-tools to sniff around corners. This kind of behavior is hard to justify under any circumstances. It is a shame that users are being spied upon by the very agencies who should, on moral grounds, be responsible for defending their privacy.
Have a nice (spyware-free) day!
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