The EFF, Amnesty International, Digitale Gesellschaft, and Privacy International have teamed up to release an anti-surveillance program called Detekt. Detekt rightly cautions users against being lulled into a false sense of security; the failure by Detekt to find any traces of spyware on your computer does not mean that spyware doesn’t exist. In fact, even if Detekt finds something, that doesn’t mean there is additional spyware that it failed to detect.
The program doesn’t appear or claim to be the definitive solution to the surveillance of journalists by repressive regimes; it only claims to detect FinFisher and Hacking Team RCS. In fact, the detection of spyware isn’t its only mission. The EFF says they hope “the availability of this tool will help us to detect some ongoing infections, provide advice to infected users, and contribute to the debate around curbing the use of government spyware in countries where it is linked to human rights abuses.”
It is well-known that spyware can be distributed by malicious actors with little fear of repercussions. Thus, if Detekt’s primary goal is to raise awareness surrounding these shadowy practices, the fulfillment of such a goal may be even more beneficial than its secondary goal of detecting malware. After all, it is better to prevent yourself from social engineered into installing spyware than to try to clean up the mess later. Increased awareness of how people are being tricked into installing malware is the first step towards resisting surveillance.