Detect Spyware and Surveillance with Detekt

A coalition of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched Detekt on Wednesday, with the goal of equipping activists and journalists with a free tool to discover if they’ve been hacked.

“Our ultimate aim is for human rights defenders, journalists and civil society groups to be able to carry out their legitimate work without fear of surveillance, harassment, intimidation, arrest or torture,” Amnesty wrote Thursday in a statement.

During their investigations, Guarnieri and his colleagues discovered, for example, that the Bahraini government used software created by German company FinFisher to spy on human rights activists. They also found out that the Ethiopian government spied on journalists in the U.S. and Europe, using software developed by Hacking Team, another company that sells off-the-shelf surveillance tools.

Detekt only works with Windows, and it’s designed to discover malware developed both by commercial firms, as well as popular spyware used by cybercriminals, such as BlackShades RAT (Remote Access Tool) and Gh0st RAT.

The tool has some limitations, though: It’s only a scanner, and doesn’t remove the malware infection, which is why Detekt’s official site warns that if there are traces of malware on your computer, you should stop using it “immediately,” and and look for help.

“The tool appears to be a simple signature-based black list that does not promise it knows all the bad files, and admits that it can be fooled,” John Prisco, president and CEO of security firm Triumfant, said.