As with the Pegasus tool, developed by Israeli company NSO Group, the new round of “purchases” is said to be more for educational purposes, with the US government unwilling to leave behind the latest spying tools that are probably already being used by rival nations.
Except that the solution known as Augury, developed by a private company called Team Cymru, is probably the most comprehensive mass surveillance solution ever offered and commercially produced. The software would be capable of intercepting many aspects of online life for targets subject to monitoring activity, from browsing history and email messages, to communications conducted using messaging apps deemed secure, to photos and documents saved on devices used.
According to independent analysis, Augury is in fact a whole arsenal of sophisticated tools, capable of intercepting up to 90% of internet traffic. Owners of these tools can “scour” the Internet for a specific person or group of individuals, then infiltrate their devices and accounts to intercept browsing history, message exchanges and documents.
Arguably more advanced than the Pegasus software, Augury gathers large amounts of data collected online and makes it available to government and corporate clients as a paid service. In private industry, cybersecurity analysts use it to track hacker activity or attribute cyberattacks. In the government world, analysts can do the same, but criminal investigation agencies have also purchased its services. Military agencies have not described use cases for the tool. However, the sale of the tool further highlights how Team Cymru obtains this controversial data and then sells it, which is a de facto business model for the company.
“Network coverage is given by over 550 collection points around the world, including nodes in Europe, the Middle East, North/South America, Africa and Asia, updated with at least 100 billion new records every day.” Thus, Augury provides access to “petabytes” of current and historical data.