Leaked catalogue reveals disinformation campaign for sale
The government-outsourced surveillance industry is worth billions
A leaked catalogue shows one tech company offering to shape ‘current events' by employing online campaigns of disinformation.
The brochure was obtained by Motherboard, leaked from Aglaya, a tech company based out of New Delhi and written for presentation at ISS World, a large trade conference for surveillance companies.
Going to the company's website, Aglaya seems like a fairly standard software company referring to itself as “a leading provider of government and enterprise grade software solutions on everyday mobiles, smartphones, tablets and desktop systems.”
While it does sell long range controllers “only meant for Law Enforcement or it's accredited agencies” and an array of cyber-security services, the brochure in question reveals an underbelly to what is already on show.
The 20-page document details a range of services, none of which are available on Aglaya's website.
Perhaps most alarming is its advertisement of ‘weaponised information'.
The brochure boasts of Aglaya's ability to “pollute internet search results and popular forums such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc. to manipulate current events. This information attack is inserted into caches of all popular electronic services till it reaches a critical mass”.
Going even further into detail, the brochure says it could discredit companies by leaking confidential information to press, post negative reviews, “stop deals” and “ruin business relationships”. The same goes for individuals for example, one could pollute search results for keywords like ‘John Adams' and ‘corrupt', conflating the two. All this only for £2113 pounds a day.
It doesn't end there. The brochure offers more pedestrian hacking services, too. In order to censor opponents, Aglaya offered DDoS services for just over £500 a day.
Even more sinister is the offer to build software for deployment inside ‘industrial machines' and ‘critical network infrastructure'. This all came under the heading of ‘Cyber-Warfare service'. Whether or not Aglaya could actually pull off this menu of premium services.
Ankur Srivastava, the CEO of Aglaya told Motherboard that the brochure was for “one particular customer”, of unknown identity. Apparently, Aglaya dealt with that customer through a South American intermediary without ever knowing its true identity.
Furthermore, Srivastava said the brochure is not representative of the company's current offerings.
Unfortunately for Aglaya, the ‘one particular customer' did not bite and the company was not able to close a deal at the trade show. Srivastava added to Motherboard, that he regrets even attending, the whole venture being ultimately pointless.
As a multi-billion market, intrusion technology and outsourced surveillance services are well known to be offered by companies like Gamma International and Bluecoat to governments and organisations with less than sterling human rights records. This kind of weaponised information is a far less discussed offering of the industry.
The capabilities available to the world's most advanced intelligence agencies are sought after and are being exported around the world. However, these capabilities aren't restricted to spying on people – advanced intelligence agencies are actively using the internet to control discourse, infiltrate movements, and discredit individuals,” Privacy International researcher officer Edin Omanovic told SCMagazineUK.com.
“Companies ranging from huge defence contractors to obscure surveillance companies are offering these capabilities as a service. Inevitably, you can imagine that there is a market for this around the world, especially in countries where misinformation is routine.”
What's alarming, added Omanovic, “is just how little we know about these techniques and how different agencies are employing them. The potential for abuse and lack of transparency in this space is not only dangerous, it's a threat to democracy.”SC reached out for commentary, but Aglaya did not respond.