US announces visa ban on those linked to commercial spyware

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US State Department

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced coming a caller visa regularisation argumentation that will alteration nan Department of State to prohibition those linked to commercialized spyware from entering nan United States.

"The State Department is implementing a caller argumentation coming that will let nan imposition of visa restrictions connected individuals progressive successful nan misuse of commercialized spyware," Blinken said.

"Such targeting has been linked to arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings successful nan astir egregious of cases. Additionally, nan misuse of these devices presents a information and counterintelligence threat to U.S. personnel."

As portion of this effort, nan Biden Administration besides issued an Executive Order prohibiting nan U.S. authorities from utilizing mercenary surveillance devices that whitethorn airs risks to overseas argumentation interests aliases nationalist security.

The Biden management has released guiding principles for governments to forestall misuse of surveillance tech successful a associated effort pinch 36 different governments (known arsenic nan Freedom Online Coalition) to forestall quality authorities abuses.

The Biden admin besides released guiding principles regarding nan government's usage of surveillance tech arsenic portion of a associated effort pinch 36 different governments (known arsenic nan Freedom Online Coalition) to forestall its misuse to alteration quality authorities abuses.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added 4 European commercialized spyware companies to its Entity List successful July 2023 owed to their engagement successful trafficking cyber exploits utilized to hack nan devices of high-risk individuals worldwide.

According to nan State Department, nan deployment of commercialized spyware devices developed by Intellexa S.A. from Greece, Intellexa Limited from Ireland, Cytrox Holdings Zrt from Hungary, and Cytrox AD from North Macedonia connected a worldwide standard aimed to intimidate governmental adversaries, restrict state of speech, suppress dissent, and support way of journalists' activity.

US spyware visa ban

Before nan sanctions, Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) linked nan Cytrox successful May 2022 pinch aggregate zero-day vulnerabilities exploited successful Predator spyware attacks targeting Android users, while Intellexa was tagged arsenic nan shaper of nan Predator Android spyware and its loader Alien by Cisco Talos and Citizen Lab information researchers.

Intellexa's spyware was besides utilized successful various surveillance campaigns targeting high-profile European politicians, journalists, and Meta executives.

​The Commerce Department sanctioned 4 different companies from Israel, Russia, and Singapore successful November 2021 because of their engagement successful processing spyware aliases trading hacking devices deployed by state-sponsored hacking groups.

Positive Technologies successful Russia and Computer Security Initiative Consultancy (CSIS) successful Singapore were banned for trafficking exploits and hacking tools. Israeli spyware makers Candiru and NSO Group were listed for processing and commercializing spyware utilized to target activists and journalists worldwide.

"The United States remains concerned pinch nan increasing misuse of commercialized spyware astir nan world to facilitate repression, restrict nan free travel of information, and alteration quality authorities abuses," Blinken said.

"The United States stands connected nan broadside of quality authorities and basal freedoms and will proceed to beforehand accountability for individuals progressive successful commercialized spyware misuse."