Italian surveillance company Hacking Team appears to fall victim to damaging cyberattack

LONDON – An Italian surveillance company known for selling malicious software used by police bodies and spy agencies appears to have succumbed to a damaging cyberattack that sent documents and invoices ricocheting across the Internet.

Hacking Team’s Twitter account appears to have been hijacked late Sunday, posting screenshots of what were purported to be internal company emails and details of secret deals with various world governments.

“Since we have nothing to hide, we’re publishing all our emails, files and source code,” an apparent message from the attacker or attackers said Sunday. At the same time a massive file, several hundred gigabytes in size, was leaked online.

The Associated Press couldn’t immediately verify the authenticity of the leaked material. Still, some of the billing records being shared online appeared to corroborate work by Citizen Lab, a research group at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, which linked Hacking Team to two dozen countries, including several with atrocious human rights records.

“Early reports … appear to validate our research showing use by repressive regimes like Ethiopia and Sudan,” Citizen Lab said in a statement. “These reports point to the lack of transparency and accountability around the market for intrusion software. We think that a better understanding of this market is essential for a free and secure Internet.”

Milan-based Hacking Team has been the subject of increasing scrutiny after the company’s malware was discovered targeting a series of journalists and activists.

Hacking Team spokesman Eric Rabe did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday and Hacking Team’s website was offline.