Firefox browser-maker Mozilla is considering whether to block cybersecurity company DarkMatter from serving as one of its internet security gatekeepers after a Reuters report linked the UAE based firm to a cyber spying program.
DarkMatter operations included hacking into the internet accounts of human rights activists, journalists and officials from rival governments. DarkMatter has denied conducting the operations and says it focuses on protecting computer networks.
While Mozilla had been considering whether to grant DarkMatter the authority to certify websites as safe or raised concerns about whether DarkMatter would abuse that authority.
Mozilla said the company has not yet come to a decision on whether to deny the authority to DarkMatter, but expects to decide within weeks.
“We don’t currently have technical evidence of misuse (by DarkMatter) but the reporting is strong evidence that misuse is likely to occur in the future if it hasn’t already,” said Selena Deckelmann, a senior director of engineering for Mozilla.
Marshall Erwin, director of trust and security for Mozilla, said the Reuters Jan. 30 report had raised concerns inside the company that DarkMatter might use Mozilla’s certification authority for “offensive cybersecurity purposes rather than the intended purpose of creating a more secure, trusted web.”
As a certification authority, DarkMatter would be partially responsible for encryption between websites they approve and their users.