An Israeli company sold internet surveillance products to Iran despite a trade ban, a report has suggested.
According to Bloomberg, the Israeli security firm Allot sold its NetEnforcer deep packet inspection (DPI) equipment to Iranians via a Danish distributor called RanTek, which repackaged the kit. Israeli trade and customs officials, whose country sees Iran as a grave threat to national security, were none the wiser.
The story states that the first such sale took place in 2006.
NetEnforcer can be used to monitor bandwidth usage, as in the case of at least one UK university's usage, or to take a deeper look into the internet traffic being monitored.
Over the last month, a spotlight has fallen on the questionable practice of Western firms selling technological tools of surveillance to repressive regimes (and to Western states, although this attracts less negative attention).
At the start of December, Wikileaks published a collection of security vendor catalogues and price lists that it terms the Spy Files, showing precisely what it was that was being hawked around. A week or so later, the European Commission got involved, urging EU companies not to sell tools of repression to the wrong sort of client, and hinting that official measures may follow if the companies do not voluntarily stop.
According to the Bloomberg piece, the Irish firm AdaptiveMobile has been selling text-message-blocking software to Iran, but will stop next year due to reputational damage.
The case of an Israeli company selling such tools to someone in Iran takes this sort of trade to somewhat absurd extremes, given the poor state of relations between those two countries.
Allot denies having any idea that its kit was going to Iran, but former sales employees say this was common knowledge within the firm, Bloomberg reported.