‘New version of German government spyware only works on Windows version of Skype’

The new version of the German ‘Bundestrojaner’ government spyware has some serious limitations. For example, the software would only work with Skype, and only on the Windows platform. Operating systems such as OS X, Linux, Android and iOS would also not be supported.

The German newspaper Die Welt also reports on the basis of anonymous sources that it was the intention that the newly developed spyware could be placed directly on the peripherals of, among others, terrorist suspects. In this way, for example, end-to-end encryption should be bypassed. However, the software is also unable to access popular chat apps WhatsApp, Telegram and Viber. A government spokesperson was unable to provide the newspaper with further explanations for security reasons.

The new version was released for use by the German police and secret services on February 22. The first version of the Bundestrojaner was dissected by hackers from the Chaos Computer Club in 2011 and turned out to be very poorly designed. In addition, that version contained options that went beyond the legal mandate of investigative services. Therefore, the German government had commissioned the development of a new version, which started in 2013.

In addition to the Bundestrojaner, the German government would also have ordered a commercial product from the company Gamma International, the maker of the controversial FinFisher malware. However, this product is not yet ready, according to a government spokesperson.