Rights groups Amnesty International, Privacy International, Digitale Gesellschaft and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have released a tool called Detekt that scans computing hardware for known, and possibly government-sanctioned, spyware.
The free Detekt software is designed to address concerns raised by the PRISM revelations and snooping by the NSA and other agencies, according to Amnesty. While its statements pitch Detekt at activists, the tool can be used by anyone with concerns about hidden software on their equipment.
"The increasing use of intrusive surveillance has had a dramatic impact on the right to privacy and other human rights like freedom of association and freedom of expression," said Amnesty in a statement.
"The latest technologies enable governments to track, monitor and spy on people's activities like never before. Through the use of these technologies, governments can read private correspondence and even turn on the camera and microphone of a computer without its owner knowing.
"By increasing people's awareness of these issues we hope they will be able to take practical steps to protect themselves."
Amnesty explained that part of the reasoning behind Detekt is to raise awareness about systems like PRISM.
"We also hope that, by knowing more about the dangers of these technologies, more people will join Amnesty International in calling for stricter controls on their international trade to stop their use in violation of the right to privacy, freedom of expression and other human rights," the group added.
Detekt is a very capable tool, according to Amnesty, but is not a complete protection system.
The software can identify common tools like Finfisher, but may not detect new surveillance techniques. Amnesty has asked the security community to assist in keeping Detekt as current and as relevant as possible.
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