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FBI Won't Say Whether It Bought These Gmail Password Stealing Boxes

The boxes are like IMSI-catchers, but for breaking into email and social media accounts.

Joseph Cox

Joseph Cox

Photo: Rayzone Brochure

Ever heard of an "app interception system"?

So-called app interception or cloud interception systems are small physical boxes that steal social media passwords, emails, Dropbox contents and more from smartphones of passers-by, all with no interaction from the target.

Now, in response to Freedom of Information requests from Motherboard, the FBI has refused to neither confirm nor deny whether the agency has any contracts with two of the main companies selling such devices.

"The mere acknowledgment of whether or not the FBI has any such records in and of itself would disclose techniques, procedures, and/or guidelines that could reasonably be expected to risk of circumvention of the law. Thus, the FBI neither confirms nor denies the existence of any records," the responses to two requests read.

The device requires "minimal training," and "no technical skills" are necessary

In January, Motherboard requested copies of contracts between the agency and three companies: Magen 100, Rayzone Group, and Wintego, which all market their technology to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

One of Rayzone Group's products is InterApp, which, according to a company brochure, can siphon passwords, emails, previous location information, contact lists, photos, internet browsing history and technical information such as the target phone's MAC address.

The device requires "minimal training," and "no technical skills" are necessary, the brochure continues. (The company also sells IMSI catchers, used to track mobile phones by their unique identifier; malware for computers and mobiles; and social media monitoring technology).

Magen 100 sells very much the same thing, and point specifically to Gmail users being vulnerable. A brochure indicates the company also sells a more portable version that can fit into a backpack.

Motherboard's request regarding Wintego, that sells a similar product, is yet to receive a response.

When sent similar requests, the Drug Enforcement Administration said that it held no responsive documents for all three companies.

The FBI surrounds its use of surveillance technology in extreme secrecy, whether that's tools such as Stingrays, or computer exploits to identify suspected criminals on the dark web. If the FBI ever does start buying boxes that can steal your Gmail password, the agency is probably going to keep tight-lipped about them as well for some time.