Increasingly prevalent abuse of commercial spyware tools around the world has prompted the U.S. to introduce a new policy that would prohibit visas for individuals profiteering from commercial spyware, developing spyware, and managing companies providing such technologies to governments, reports The Record, a news site by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future.
Similar restrictions will also be applied to the family members of individuals involved in commercial spyware distribution. Aside from posing a threat to freedom of expression and privacy, commercial spyware has also presented a counterintelligence risk to U.S. government employees, according to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who noted the implementation of the visa prohibitions under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
"The United States stands on the side of human rights and fundamental freedoms and will continue to promote accountability for individuals involved in commercial spyware misuse," said Blinken, who did not clarify whether the restrictions would be implemented on individuals entering into spyware transactions with U.S. allies.
Ukraine has been targeted by Russian threat actors in the new Operation Texontodisinformation campaign that also involved spear-phishing and credential exfiltration tactics, according to The Hacker News.
Record high ransomware and data extortion incidents experienced by Western nations last year have prompted former National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers to call for a reevaluation of their cybersecurity defense strategy.