An Israeli technology firm says it it looking into accusations made in a published report by Bloomberg that its software was sold to Iran, even as it denies claims in the report that its technology can be used for surveillance.

The Israeli firm Allot Communications issued a statement on Friday that said its corporate policy was to comply fully with Israeli and non-Israeli export control laws and regulations and that it will investigate claims made in a Bloomberg report that a company product, NetEnforcer, was sold within Iran.

The Bloomberg report on Friday claims that NetEnforcer gear was sold by Allot to a distributor in Denmark, stripped of any identifying information and reshipped to Iran. The report uses the NetEnforcer incident as just one in a string of recent reports that highlight a growing concern about international trade in surveillance technology. Iran and Israel are longtime enemies, with prominent government officials within Iran publicly calling for the destruction of the State of Israel.

In its statement Allot, a firm that is based in Hod Hasharon, Israel, said that NetEnforcer is a tool used by enterprises and Internet service providers to optimize Internet traffic, such as traffic associated with applications. NetEnforcer isn’t sold as a surveillance tool nor can it “analyze or extract knowledge on the actual content of Internet traffic,” the company said in a statement.

Information on the company Web site tends to support the company’s claim that NetEnforcer is used for bandwidth management. However, the NetEnforcer product also sports features that, when combined with other products, could be used by oppressive regimes, including integration with Web filtering, subscriber management and botnet mitigation products that could encompass more detailed analysis of individual users online activities. 

The report comes at a sensitive time. Serial popular revolts in the Middle East and North Africa in the last year have shone a spotlight on repressive regimes and their use of technology to monitor popular dissent online.

In October, the group Telecomix revealed that technology from the Web monitoring and filtering firm BlueCoat was found to be used by the Syrian regime to censor Web requests by Syrian citizens amid popular uprisings there. BlueCoat also claims that disreputable resellers passed the technology along to the Syrian regime, acting against company policy.
In April, documents unearthed amid popular protests in Egypt also revealed that the Egyptian government of Hosnei Mubarak purchased a “governmental IT intrusion product known as “Finfisher” and created by the UK firm Gamma International.

Categories: Government, Web Security