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[ISN] The one ring to rule them all


By Angus Batey
November 22, 2011

DAVID Vincenzetti isn't your typical arms dealer. He's never sold a machinegun, a grenade or a surface-to-air missile. But, make no mistake, he has access to a weapon so powerful it could bring a country to its knees. It's called RCS - Remote Control System - and it's a piece of computer software.

Developed by Vincenzetti and a team of former computer hackers, RCS is able to ''invade'' a digital device undetected, bypass the most sophisticated electronic defences so far devised and, if the user so desired, disrupt the running of anything from a railway signalling system to a nuclear power station.

Vincenzetti, it should be made clear, is a law-abiding businessman. The company he set up, Hacking Team, based in Milan, markets RCS as an ''investigative tool'' for law enforcement and security agencies engaged in counterterrorism and counter-espionage against ''high-value'' individuals.

The licences, which cost â200,000 ($A270,000) a year, are never sold to states that are under European Union or United Nations arms embargoes or to private companies or individuals. But the very fact that RCS exists shows what a team of computer whiz-kids can achieve and the damage they could do if they worked for an enemy of the West.


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