Intelligence Service chief steps down
The head of the Cyprus Intelligence Service (KYP), Andreas Pentaras, has resigned following revelations that the island’s secret service department had purchased spy-hacking software.
Last week, leak documents revealed that KYP had paid €50,000 for what appeared to be remote attack vectors from Italian company ‘The Hacking Team’ in order to spy on persons of interest by either hacking their mobile telephones or other electronic devices like laptops and Ipads.
An attack vector is a path or means by which a hacker (or cracker) can gain access to a computer or network server for surveillance or even to deliver malicious software or viruses. Attack vectors enable hackers to exploit system vulnerabilities, including the human element.
There are strict laws in Cyprus on surveillance and it was argued that the use of such equipment compomises the data protection rights.
On Saturday morning, Pentaras informed the Presidential Palace of his intention to step down – something that was later confirmed by Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides.
“In light of the revelations that surfaced with regards to use of a specific tracking system by the Cyprus Intelligence Service and in order to protect the integrity of the department, the head of the service Mr Andreas Pentaras has today handed in his resignation which in turn was accepted by the President of the Republic,” said Christodoulides.
“The President of the Republic has telephoned the party leaders in which he informed them of his intention to discuss the matter at the next meeting of party leaders.”
When news of the hacking software was first exposed, Pentaras had gone on the offensive saying that technology upgrades are being considered only within a national security framework.
There continues to be a feeling of mistrust amongst some people in Cyprus towards KYP while many MPs have called on more transparency within the service time and time again in the past.