How to dodge RIP

Report shows how

Updated A report due to be published tonight will explain how to dodge the government's email snooping bill via a few simple steps.

The paper, courtesy of Web security experts Ian Brown and Brian Gladman, shows you don't have to be an Internet genius to bypass the proposed controls in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill. It says criminals will easily be able to circumvent the email monitoring controls in RIP, therefore making the proposed legislation unworkable.

The report has already been distributed to MPs ahead of this evening's House of Commons debate on the RIP bill.

Brown, an Internet security expert at University College London, and Gladman, an ex-Ministry of Defence information security expert, claim the interception technology needed for the government's email monitoring plans is already obsolete.

Speaking to The Register, Gladman said: "The underlying concern in RIP is that it is going to spend a lot of taxpayers' money for no effect. It is easy for criminals to get around it."

The report labels the powers in RIP "technically inept", and goes on to list several ways that even cyber virgins would be able to evade the interception devices, or "black boxes", which some ISPs in the UK will have to install.

It outlines four main ways of dodging the bill. The first is pretty simple - use a smaller ISP. The government has said it will only fit black boxes in some larger ISPs.

Second is to use a server overseas and use the diffie-hellman technique. By signing on to this, through sites such as http://www.mail2web.com, email can only be intercepted at either the server or the end-user's computer, but not in between.

Another option involves the growing use of ADSL and cable modems - with these, people can stay online and not need servers. The final method uses the emerging Internet protocol IPv6, which renders black boxes redundant - all data is machine encrypted by default.

"It's so easy for criminals to get around this it's just not true," said Gladman. "This is not going to work - it will impact on honest people, drive away business and harm e-commerce, but will not catch criminals and will waste a lot of money in the process."

Gladman also pointed out that, despite the enormous amount of time and energy spent on RIP, the Government was still unable to protect Internet users from the security debacles at Powergen last week - when customer names and credit card numbers were exposed on the Web.

"We both feel this bill is ridiculour, it will undermine trust and is already impacting on business. And the worrying thing is that the government is carrying on regardless," said Gladman. The report will be published on FIPR's Website at 19.00 BST.®

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