New Delhi-based tech firm BellTroX Infotech services offered its hacking service to clients that spied on more than 10,000 email accounts around the world for more than seven years.
Its services targeted government officials in Europe, gambling tycoons in the Bahamas, and many popular investment firms in the United States including KKR and Muddy Waters as reported by Reuters. It also reports that the BellTroX’s hacking that as aimed at American targets is currently under investigation by the US law enforcement.
The identity of the company’s clients has not been revealed yet but in an interview with Reuters, the company’s owner, Sumit Gupta, refused to reveal who had hired him and refuted any wrongdoing. Researchers at the Internet watchdog group Citizen Lab released a report on Tuesday saying they had “high confidence” that BellTroX employees were behind the spying operations.
“This is one of the largest spy-for-hire operations ever exposed,” said Citizen Lab researcher John Scott-Railton. He also notes that although they receive a fraction of the attention devoted to state-sponsored espionage groups or headline-grabbing heists, “cyber mercenary” services are widely used, he said. “Our investigation found that no sector is immune.”
According to the report, Judges in South Africa, Politicians in Mexico, lawyers in France, and environmental groups in the United States have been targeted by BellTroX’s hacking services.
BellTroX’s owner Sumit Gupta was charged in a 2015 hacking case in which two U.S. private investigators admitted to paying him to hack the accounts of marketing executives. He was declared a fugitive in 2017, although the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the current status of the case or whether an extradition request had been issued.
Gupta has also denied allegations of hacking and said he had never been contacted by law enforcement in the interview with Reuters. He said that he had only helped some private investigators to download messages from email inboxes after they provided him with login details.
“I didn’t help them access anything, I just helped them with downloading the mails and they provided me all the details,” he told Reuters. “I am not aware how they got these details but I was just helping them with the technical support.”
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