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Big Brother Cometh: German Police seek to use malware to spy on suspects.

By deepsand ·
PC World

Can Malware Be Used to Fight Crime?
German police are contemplating using Trojan horses and other malware to spy on suspected criminals.


Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service
Thursday, March 15, 2007 11:00 AM GMT-08:00

What if the good guys started using the tools of the bad guys to catch the bad guys, but other good guys stopped them from doing that?

German police officials have expressed interest in developing software tools to help them surveil computer users who may be involved in crime. The tools might include types of software similar to those used in online fraud and theft schemes, such as programs that record keystrokes, logins and passwords. Security companies, however, are asserting that they wouldn't make exceptions to their software to accommodate, for example, Trojan horse programs planted by law enforcement on users' computers.

Magnus Kalkuhl, a virus analyst with Kaspersky Lab Ltd., said on Thursday at Cebit that Germany confirmed in January it plans to invest ?200,000 (US$264,000) in the idea and fund two programmers. The project has been informally dubbed the "Bundestrojaner," which translates literally from German to English as "Federal Trojan."

Two recent court rulings in Germany, however, have thrown doubt on whether use of such technology -- without knowledge of the targeted users -- would comply with German law regarding searches, Kalkuhl said.

Germany's Chaos Computer Club said last month it opposes the government program and such online searches and monitoring violate a user's fundamental rights.

The issue may be moot if online criminals use antivirus or antimalware security software, which are designed to detect Trojan horses and viruses and scrub them from a machine.

While it could be compelled to help law enforcement with changes in the law, Kaspersky wouldn't modify its software to allow a clandestine police program to infect a computer. Such a change would be at odds with what its software is intended to do, Kalkuhl said.

"The decision is based on what the program does, not who wrote it," Kalkuhl said at Cebit.

F-Secure Corp., a security company based in Helsinki, decided in 2001 that it also wouldn't modify its software at the request of law enforcement, said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer. For example, granting an exception for French police would open a door to requests from other countries, he said.

"Where would you draw the line?" Hypponen said. "We are not going to draw the line at all."

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I wonder what dumb government type

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Big Brother Cometh: Germa ...

came up with that? It will get detected by anti malware. How are they going to target just unsuspecting criminals.

Oh I know, this is one of those if you aren't a crook you don't need to worry about it, things.

Of course other crooks would never even dream of using the same vector!.

Sheesh.

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Just as the U.S. requires that the private sector assist law enforcement,

by deepsand In reply to I wonder what dumb govern ...

by providing back-doors into comm. channels, the Germans seek to have companies who specialize in IT security assist in the circumvention of their own products!

Even without such cooperation, the desired end could be, to a degree, achieved by publicly intimating that Company X was in fact cooperating in such efforts, thereby causing users to avoid that company's products.

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So the German Police want the same powers that

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Big Brother Cometh: Germa ...

The Security Services have but without the cost of setting up and maintaining a Country Wide ability to monitor every bit of Telco Activity with their own back doors into Encrypted File Systems and the like.

Sounds reasonable to most Bureaucrats as they will no be paying the money to deploy this technology or the expenses involved in maintaining a country wide Security Centre.

Actually sounds very much like what the Government in Singapore is currently doing and constantly getting caught out at breaking into private peoples home computers and looking at the contents of the HDD to make sure that there is nothing adverse being said about the Singapore Government. Whoops Simtel owns Optus the Overseas Tellecumiticion Arm of the AU Telco so I guess that this entire post will be reported to the Singapore Government and I'll have a visit from them to Cease & Desist saying anything less than nice about their country.

I'll probably have to cry myself to sleep at night as well.

Col

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Isn't the punishment

by TonytheTiger In reply to So the German Police want ...

for that 20 lashes?

:)

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No I sure that the 20 Lashes

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Isn't the punishment

Is confined to Muslim Countries I think that the Singapore Government is much kinder and only shoots you.

Col

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Singapore does still use caning as a means of punishment.

by deepsand In reply to No I sure that the 20 Las ...

That caused quite an uproar when, in 1994, an 18 year old American, Michael J. Fay, was caned for vandalism.

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