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Outed: QuaDream

Apr 19, 2023

Government surveillance peddlers

Last week, Microsoft and the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab unveiled the discovery of a mysterious Israeli firm, QuaDream, which has been secretly selling its surveillance platform to governments around the world. 

This is Katy Craig in San Diego, California.

This company, dubbed as a "private sector offensive actor (PSOA)" by Microsoft, has managed to fly under the radar, with its activities being tracked as DEV-0196. The product it sells goes by the name "REIGN," and its malware targeting iOS devices has been christened "KingsPawn." In Microsoft's view, QuaDream resembles a cyber mercenary operation, providing both services and tools to its government clientele.

Now, you might be asking yourself, "What's the big deal?" Well, Citizen Lab's investigation, in collaboration with Microsoft, reveals that QuaDream's targets have included journalists, political opposition figures, and even an NGO worker. This elusive business has mastered the art of keeping a low profile, with no website, minimal media coverage, or social media presence. In fact, QuaDream employees have reportedly been instructed not to mention their employer on social media. Talk about an undercover operation!

But let's not get too caught up in the intrigue. Instead, let's take this opportunity to acknowledge the larger issue at hand: the commercial surveillance market. The researchers at Citizen Lab remind us that this market is far more extensive and complex than any single company. QuaDream may be just the tip of the iceberg in a vast ocean of surveillance.

This is Katy Craig. Stay safe out there!

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