back to article Revealed: Mystery 7-year cyberspy campaign in Latin America

Security researchers have uncovered a seven year-long malware campaign against Latin America. Citizen Lab found that journalists, activists, politicians, and public figures in Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela have been targeted by a large-scale hacking campaign since 2008. The campaign, dubbed Packrat, uses bogus …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Isn't ALBA the likes of Venezuela (give or take the result of the recent election)? If so I'd have thought the US would have been likely to be supporting opposition groups there, not spying on them.

    1. Seabhcan

      Why not both?

      1. fishman

        Because the sites have malware. It's one thing to spy on your allies, but to load them up with malware?

    2. Seabhcan

      Why not both? If you are financially supporting a group you probably need to spy on it too to make sure the money is being spent the way you want.

    3. sandman

      You know where your enemies stand, it's your friends you can't be sure of. Paranoia: a game for everybody. ;)

      1. scarletherring

        It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you...

    4. MyffyW Silver badge

      Don't get me wrong, I'm as keen to pin it on the NSA as the next suspicious flapper. But given the anti-America stance of Chavez-era Venezuela I'd be willing to lay an each way bet on other actors in this particular caper.

      It will be fun finding out in the papers 30 years from now.

      Proverbs for Paranoids No. 5: "“Paranoids are not paranoids because they’re paranoid, but because they keep putting themselves, f***ing idiots, deliberately into paranoid situations.”

      1. Hardrada

        Agreed. Unless it's a sophisticated attack, I don't see why the US would top the list. We're currently ignoring Latin America for the most part, and our federal government's anti-communist stance has softened.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    "doggedly probing a 1994 Buenos Aires bombing"

    That the one where dogged probing fingered Iran as the culprit instead of the far more likely far-right hit squads? Insofar as the "dogged probing" continued to dog the Iran "theory", this did not bode well for ultimately useful information.

    1. Bumpy Cat

      Re: COUGH

      "Far more likely"? If you have any evidence of that I suggest you forward it to the Argentinean authorities. Given that Argentina issued Interpol warrants for six Hezbollah operatives (who were operating under Iranian orders) in 2006, I think it's a little bit more than a "theory".

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Over there?

    And what makes you think that's not happening over here - just that fact that Snowden hasn't let it slip yet?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Over there?

      And what makes you think that's not happening over here - just that fact that Snowden hasn't let it slip yet? .... Version 1.0

      Of course it is happening over here, Version 1.0. One just has to notice the FUD and right dodgy mainstream news stories which never reveal true sources, and are invariably reactions to events media hosted, to know that a counterfeit copy and bad/sad/rad phormer shadow of itself in a Great Game, is alive and well, and being played extremely badly, and in cyber spaces and other worldly alternative places, being destroyed because of endemic systemic incompetence and lack of necessary fundamental future intelligence product.

      And methinks all existing leaked information from Snowden files certainly confirms all of the above, for the world and its worlds are a much more dangerous and uncertain place, with madness and mayhem abounding everywhere, and if listening, taking orders from no one even remotely sane, methinks.

      The system though would have you believe everything is rosy in the garden and on the up and up, and not in terminal decline and catastrophic collapse. Idiotic fools be they in pole positions there, mired in crass nonsense and peddling sweet sour platitudes there.

      What's good for the goose is good for the gander though and that makes for interesting future times.

  4. Cynic_999

    Is there any reason to believe that our government would be any better at managing a cyber-spy project than any of the other IT projects it has attempted to run?

    1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

      When it's a matter of dick measuring contests... erm, I mean, of "National Security" governments can and often do put the right people in the right positions.

      A National Healthcare database? pfffft! who cares, it's not like somebody will die.

      Spying on foreign "threats"? Oh Em Gee! Man all stations, PRONTO!

      ... And it's the same all over the damned world...

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Dick measuring contests in a sea and see of pussies

        Can I please have a pair of those rose-tinted spectaculars, A. Coatsworth. Surely the right people don't work in government, they make fortunes elsewhere, and both for themselves and theirs and for a whole selection of engagingly shady characters :-) ..... persons of particular and peculiar interest :-)

        Or is that only if one be mercenary?

        1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Dick measuring contests in a sea and see of pussies

          Wow, amanfromMars replied to one of my posts. I feel honored!*

          Stuxnet was most definitely a government effort, and it ran rampant over the world doing its nasty deeds for years... we still don't really know who did it, do we? but it was the work of talented programmers.

          They probably were mercenaries... when I said "right people" I didn't mean "good people", but the people who can make the things happen. There is a fortune to be made out of the pork barrel, if one has the correct skills and contacts, just not in the "visible" part of the government.

          *And no, I'm not being sarcastic

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: Re: Dick measuring contests in a sea and see of pussies

            There is a fortune to be made out of the pork barrel, if one has the correct skills and contacts, just not in the "visible" part of the government. ... A. Chatsworth

            Amen to that, A.C. And risible governments have no chance of leading anyone or anything anywhere in the remote virtual command and control space and novel new orderly world order places. They just don't get it, this EMPowering IT lark, do they? No viable practical imagination to realise a changed environment is that which extraordinarily renders them epic relics for histories to forget to remember.

  5. a_yank_lurker


    Assuming feral involvement and the nature of the campaign, I would look at the CIA as the lead. However, given SA politics I would not rule out a local actor leading this with possible support from friendly foreign spooks.

  6. DocJames

    Given the description

    of other South American countries in ALBA also having been served with malware, I'd put money on a US TLA agency being behind this.

    Other suggestions seem to ignore geography. And the Monroe doctrine.

  7. kkanalz

    Absolutely NONE of the countries mentioned in this article are in Latin America! They are all in SOUTH AMERICA!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All of South America is part of Latin America.

      Not sure what point you are making here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All of South America is part of Latin America.

        That he likes the CAPS LOCK key?

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