Reuters Takes Down Blockbuster Hacker-for-Hire Investigation After Indian Court Order

The investigation gave unprecedented insight into how hacker-for-hire shops operated. Reuters says it stands by the reporting.
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Image: Reuters, Collage by 404 Media.

Reuters has “temporarily” taken down a blockbuster investigation into a specific Indian hacker-for-hire operation after facing a court order issued on Monday, according to an editor’s note now published on Reuters’ site in place of the article.

There is no indication that the article contained errors or otherwise incorrect information, and the editor’s note states “Reuters stands by its reporting and plans to appeal the decision.” The report, written by Raphael Satter, Zeba Siddiqui, and Chris Bing, was based on a massive cache of documents including emails, financial records, photos, messages, and presentations from inside Appin, a cybersecurity startup-turned hacker-for-hire shop, as well as law enforcement files from multiple continents and interviews with hundreds of people, according to the investigation. It gave unprecedented insight into what the inner workings of an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)—cybersecurity parlance for a sophisticated hacking outfit—looked like.

“Reuters has temporarily removed the article ‘How an Indian startup hacked the world’ to comply with a preliminary court order issued on Dec. 4, 2023, in a district court in New Delhi, India. Reuters stands by its reporting and plans to appeal the decision,” the editor’s note reads. An archive of the story, hosted on the Wayback Machine, is available here.

“The Indian company hacked on an industrial scale, stealing data from political leaders, international executives, prominent attorneys and more,” the initial report reads. “Appin was a premier provider of cyberespionage services for private investigators working on behalf of big business, law firms and wealthy clients.”