DAVID VINCENZETTI: THE HACKER, WHO FOR THE DICTATORS SPIES

There are few, almost unknown people, who play a fundamental role in the immense mechanism of the world economy, but the public opinion will never be aware of their existence. A paradigmatic example: David Vincenzetti’s[1] life is similar to a script written for Hollywood (to shock the public), such as the name of the company with which he built his reputation: Hacking Team Srl Milano[2].

David is an autodidact who, as the son of a high school teacher and a chemical seller, has been playing and scrambling with computers since he was 14. Instead of spending hours and hours on friends and girls, he was reading data and learning cryptographic codes in online forums until he becomes a hacker. After graduation, he enrolled at Bicocca University in Milan, where he was hired as an administrator for university network security before graduation[3]. In 2002, he and some colleagues built the RCS software (Remote Control System) “which takes control of target devices without being discovered so that governments can launch malware[4] against their enemies[5], which is considered from Wikileaks as very efficient and dangerous.[6]

It is no coincidence that Vincenzetti is angry with Assange. He considers him a terrorist who must be stopped[7]: Wikileaks will the organization, which destroyed the Hacking Team. The software created by Vincenzetti’s staff is called “Da Vinci” and “Galileo[8] and is sold several times to armies and secret services from all over the world: to Saudi Arabia to spy on and damage an Iranian nuclear[9] power plant, to the defense ministries of Egypt and Azerbaijan; to the Malaysian Secret Service; to the security services of Uzbekistan, the secret services of Morocco and Sudan[10]; to the INSA of Ethiopia[11]. A raging activity that Julien Assange ends in July 2015[12], attacking the Hacking Team’s websites, and publishing thousands of documents within Vincenzetti’s business and secrets[13].

The Nerds’ Army

A Hacking Team technician at work

Getting a picture of Vincenzetti from his Linkedin page, there are few contradictory statements: He shows that he wants to distance himself from his past, but at the same time, in a way, he remains connected to his trademark. In fact, he’s proud to have been a Hacking Team[14] partner for 16 years (and not only like a co-founder, what he actually is), but with some secrecy about the future (“I’m working to get my fifth company started. I’m afraid I can’t reveal anymore, I’m sorry[15]): he announces that he is nowadays signing as CEO of Enrico Fermi Manhattan Project Ltd.[16] (a company that is not yet registered), and adds: “I sold Hacking Team in April 2019 and left it shortly thereafter. To the best of my knowledge, the hacking team quickly disbanded[17].

Hacking Team was a puzzle, which consists of parts scattered between Milan and distant countries: Spain, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Korea and other 40 countries, up to Egypt, where the software has been abused, as reported from national[18] and international[19] Newspapers, because of its involvement in the kidnapping, torture and killing of the Italian student Giulio Regeni[20]. David Vincenzetti, a thin, harmless-looking manager who loves luxury and designer clothing[21], sold the “Galileo” application to the Cairo National Defense Council, which was apparently used to spy Giulio Regeni[22].

The discovery of the imposing role in the battle of intelligence agencies against political opponents began in Rouen[23] in July 2013, as the publisher and founder of the Moroccan web project of the Mamfakinch[24] democratic movement (whose domain is now closed[25]) – a movement born during the Arab Spring, which grew independently from political parties or religious organizations[26]. His Chief Editor, Hisham Almiraat[27], received an email in July 2013 with the subject “Complaint“, asking him not to mention the sender’s name. Other members of the movement will then receive the same email[28]. Shortly afterwards, everyone who received and opened the email was infected with a very complex spyware from an IP in Rabat, behind which is hidden the Moroccan High Council, which had simply made all of the dissident’s equipment accessible, was secretly thereby taking control of them[29]. The virus attack is so severe that Mamfakinch is forced to stop the project in 2014, and military repression supported by Vincenzetti’s technology prevents his militants from reorganizing the other way around[30].

The American partner

Eric Rabe is watching you

The discovery of Vincenzetti’s role can be traced back to a footprint of computer programming left in a code of the scandal: documents, emails, all clearly linked with the Hacking Team, the main supplier of the tools used for interception, identify them this company as the director of the virus attack. The “government eavesdropping hacking suite[31], as described on the company’s website, at the time consisted of approximately 40 specialized engineers and commercial advisors who offered services to up to 40 countries that the NGO Reporters without Borders “Digital Mercenaries[32]. They officially fight criminals and terrorists, but are also used behind the scenes against dissidents. David Vincenzetti has always joked about it as a strategy to respond to the allegations[33], along with company spokesman Eric Rabe[34]. But the reality was soon clear to everyone: namely that the company was on the payer’s side and also got a lot of money, no matter what the military purpose of the application was[35].

Eric Rabe claims to own Eric Rabe Communications Strategies Llc Haversford, Pennsylvania[36], but the commercial register claims that this company does not exist[37]. What does exist, however, is the Greater Philadelphia Economy League[38], an important lobby association that brings together politicians, industrialists, financiers, IT experts and religious leaders from Pennsylvania,[39] in which Rabe held an absolute top position at the beginning of the century (he still works as a freelance consultant[40]) as he hadn’t left his managerial position with the Verizon Group yet (the largest multinational American telecommunications company[41]), joining the Hacking Team[42].

Another protagonist of the group is Alberto Pelliccione, now 35 years old, but at that time a very young programmer[43] who is said to have suffered a lot in this matter (he left the company for ethical reasons, because of the never shared strategic decisions and has always explained that the company has been deliberately used for political attacks[44]) and is only now back on the saddle after years of allegation of stealing and illegally forwarding of over 400 gigabytes of political and military[45] secrets – allegations made personally from his old friend David Vincenzetti. Today Pelliccione is the founder and CEO of the ReaQta-Hive group[46], a cybersecurity and artificial intelligence company, known for developing advanced anti-hacker[47] defense software called Cytrix[48]: the group consists of ReaQta Ltd. Pte Singapore[49], ReaQta BV Amsterdam[50], ReaQta Ltd. La Valletta[51] and the financial holding ReaQta Group BV Amsterdam [52]– whose majority owner is Pelliccione.

Guido Landi is the last member of the triad of Hacking Team: a former Windows employee who today defines Hacking Team as “a cage of madmen“, which was “dominated by a fascist who doesn’t forgive those who leave[53]. In his LinkedIn profile, he asserts to be the owner of a new secret company based in the United Arab Emirates[54].

Today Hacking Teams changed its name to Memento Labs Srl Milan, with the same headquarters at Via della Moscova 13[55] and as President Paolo Lezzi, founder and owner of InTheCyber ​​Group SA Lugano, whose offices are in Milan, which deals with industrial espionage. Lezzi speaks of SoD (Segregation of Duties), a high-sounding English name that serves to preserve the use of old software. In several interviews, Lezzi prefers not to answer questions about the past, but rather to focus on his new company, which consists of 50 very young computer scientists who, according to Lezzi[56], can make people forget the past of the previous team[57]. As for Vincenzetti, it appears that until he started his new business in Abu Dhabi, he worked for the United Arab Emirates government, where he has worked regularly since 2015.

 

[1] https://www.linkedin.com/in/vincenzetti/?originalSubdomain=it

[2] https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacking_Team

[3] https://d-art.it/news/chi-e-david-vincenzetti-uno-degli-uomini-piu-odiati-e-temuti-al-mondo/22493

[4] https://it.malwarebytes.com/malware/

[5] https://wikileaks.org/spyfiles/document/hackingteam/31_remote-control-system-v5-1/31_remote-control-system-v5-1.pdf

[6] https://wikileaks.org/spyfiles/document/hackingteam/31_remote-control-system-v5-1/31_remote-control-system-v5-1.pdf

[7] https://www.corriere.it/cronache/15_luglio_11/vincezetti-hacking-team-assange-9e9f13c8-27f0-11e5-ab65-6757d01b480d.shtml

[8] http://www.digitaljournal.com/internet/spyware-firm-hacking-team-hacked-embarrassing-data-leaked/article/437666

[9] https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2015/08/05/hacking-team-regione-lombardia-tra-i-soci-pronti-a-vendere-la-societa-di-spionaggio-al-regime-saudita/1937489/

[10] https://www.lastampa.it/tecnologia/2015/07/10/news/cosi-il-sudan-ha-messo-in-crisi-hacking-team-1.35240127

[11] https://www.lastampa.it/tecnologia/2015/07/14/news/intelligence-o-panini-la-doppia-vita-di-hacking-team-1.35241523

[12] https://www.wikileaks.org/hackingteam/emails/?q=&mfrom=&mto=nadia.hamdane%40hotmail.it&title=&notitle=&date=&nofrom=&noto=&count=50&sort=2

[13] https://www.lastampa.it/tecnologia/2015/07/07/news/hacking-team-hackerata-file-diffusi-dal-suo-stesso-profilo-twitter-1.35239134 ; https://www.repubblica.it/tecnologia/2015/07/10/news/servizi_segreti_forze_dell_ordine_e_politici_nelle_mail_riservate_dell_hacking_team-118794772/

[14] https://www.linkedin.com/in/vincenzetti/?originalSubdomain=it

[15] https://www.linkedin.com/in/vincenzetti/?originalSubdomain=it

[16] https://rocketreach.co/david-vincenzetti-email_427486

[17] https://www.linkedin.com/in/vincenzetti/?originalSubdomain=it

[18] https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/26/fear-this-man-cyber-warfare-hacking-team-david-vincenzetti/

[19] https://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2018/12/09/news/khashoggi_wp_anche_una_societa_italiana_nella_cyber_guerra_saudita_per_catturare_il_giornalista_dissidente_-213789698/

[20] https://www.lastampa.it/tecnologia/news/2016/04/11/news/l-ombra-di-hacking-team-sull-omicidio-regeni-1.36591226

[21] https://d-art.it/news/chi-e-david-vincenzetti-uno-degli-uomini-piu-odiati-e-temuti-al-mondo/22493

[22] https://www.lastampa.it/tecnologia/news/2016/04/11/news/l-ombra-di-hacking-team-sull-omicidio-regeni-1.36591226

[23] https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/espions-david-vincenzetti-lhomme-qui-leve-une-armee-de-hackers

[24] https://web.archive.org/web/20150415045504/ ; http://moroccansforchange.com/2011/04/03/mamfakinch/

[25] http://mamfakinch.com

[26] Kerric Harvey, “Mamfakinch“, Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics, SAGE Publishing, Thousand Oaks (California) 2014, pages 787-789

[27] https://globalvoices.org/author/hisham/

[28] https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/espions-david-vincenzetti-lhomme-qui-leve-une-armee-de-hackers

[29] https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/espions-david-vincenzetti-lhomme-qui-leve-une-armee-de-hackers

[30] https://web.archive.org/web/20160423173933/ ; https://www.mamfakinch.com/%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%86%D8%B4-%D9%81%D9%83%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%B9%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%86%D8%A9-2011-%D9%84%D9%85-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D9%83%D8%B0%D9%84%D9%83-%D9%81/ 

[31] http://ilkim.it/caso-khashoggi-e-il-software-spia/

[32] https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/26/fear-this-man-cyber-warfare-hacking-team-david-vincenzetti/

[33] https://www.corriere.it/tecnologia/15_luglio_12/david-vincenzetti-hacking-team-intervista-b4d96884-2861-11e5-8e27-9292b85fb2a2.shtml

[34] https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/gvyemx/hacking-team-the-hack-on-us-was-not-done-by-some-random-guy

[35] https://www.dday.it/redazione/17035/hacking-team-a-nudo-cosa-faceva-come-intercettava-e-cosa-succedera-adesso

[36] https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericrabe/

[37] https://www.corporations.pa.gov/Search/CorpSearch

[38] http://economyleague.org/about-us

[39] https://www.wharton.upenn.edu/story/how-a-nonprofit-can-become-a-boundary-spanner-to-help-alleviate-poverty-in-philadelphia/ ; https://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/04/who_has_the_most_lobbying_powe.html ; https://generocity.org/philly/2016/04/01/economy-league-los-angeles-coalition-building/

[40] https://globalphiladelphia.org/sites/globalphiladelphia.org/files/GPA%20Annual%20Report%202010.pdf

[41] https://www.verizon.com/about

[42] http://economyleague.org/providing-insight/newsroom/2009/03/26/economy-league-names-john-f-smith-and-james-k-wujcik-to-lead-board

[43] https://www.linkedin.com/in/albertopelliccione/?originalSubdomain=nl

[44] http://www.giustiziami.it/gm/distrutto-dallinchiesta-su-hacking-team-3-anni-dopo-torno-a-vivere/

[45] https://www.ilgiornale.it/news/cronache/hacker-archiviata-posizione-pelliccione-dellhacking-team-1552124.html

[46] https://reaqta.com

[47] https://www.vice.com/it/article/784a9x/i-disertori-di-hacking-team

[48] http://cytrix.net/endpoint-protection.html

[49] https://opencorporates.com/companies/sg/201812231C

[50] https://opencorporates.com/companies/nl/69518947

[51] https://opencorporates.com/companies/mt/C65166

[52] https://opencorporates.com/companies/nl/69514852

[53] https://www.linkedin.com/in/guidolandi/

[54] https://www.linkedin.com/in/guidolandi/

[55] https://www.key4biz.it/cyber-intelligence-nasce-memento-labs-dalla-fusione-delle-attivita-di-inthecyber-group-e-la-storica-hacking-team/252368/

[56] https://www.linkedin.com/in/paololezzi/detail/recent-activity/posts/

[57] InTheCyber Group SA Lugano

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