Feeds

US Feds can hack overseas boxes – judge

It's sleazy, not illegal

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

The Feds have as much right to be creeps as anyone else, a US judge has ruled in connection with a motion filed by busted Russian computer enthusiast Vasily Gorshkov.

The resourceful Gorshkov, we may recall, is charged with breaking into numerous networks and downloading credit card details with associate Alexey Ivanov, and then attempting to extort money from the victims for 'security services' which would eliminate the holes exploited during the attacks.

The FBI lured the two to the US by posing as representatives of the fictional 'Invita' security firm, and offering the dynamic duo good jobs if they could prove their skills.

Of course the Feds set up a box rigged with a key logger and then set the pair to work demonstrating their amazing prowess. When they accessed their machines back home, the Feds recorded the login info, and later returned to root the boxes.

US District Judge John Coughenour ruled that during the demonstration, Gorshkov would not have had any expectation of privacy, as he would have known that "the systems administrator could and likely would monitor his activities."

Fair enough. There's no question that anything Gorshkov did on the test box was up for grabs. But using information so gleaned to access a machine on foreign soil seems a separate issue, which the judge in this case declined to recognize.

The defendant argued that the Feds violated Russian law when they searched the contents of his remote machine. We don't know, but we rather think they violated Russian sovereignty at any rate.

However, the judge ruled that Russian law doesn't apply to American agents, and left it at that.

But surely, if the machines were located in Russia, then the US agents searching them were, in some virtual sense, also located in Russia. At a minimum they owed the Russian authorities the courtesy of a heads up and perfunctory request for permission to proceed.

Coughenour's decision suggests that it's fine for agents in one country to rely on their own laws when poking around in computers located off shore -- a most disturbing precedent.

Meanwhile, Gorshkov's trial has been scheduled to commence on 17 September. As his defense has been pretty well gutted before the fact, we don't expect it to last very long, or offer any surprises. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?