Trojan lets cyber-cops plant bogus evidence

Aptly named D.I.R.T.

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Note: This story contains incomplete and inaccurate data. Please see my explanation and partial retraction for the latest and most accurate information. -- TCG

A new tool of Fascist control, with which law-enforcement agents can secretly monitor the entire range of a suspect's computer activity, has been developed by self-proclaimed 'computer surveillance experts' Codex Data Systems, according to a document sent to Cryptome.org.

The source here is a PowerPoint slide show, presumably by Codex PR bunnies, boasting of D.I.R.T.'s amazing capabilities to violate in secret the last vestiges of civil protections from state oppression.

"Imagine being able to remotely monitor any PC in the world anytime you want," the company taunts. "Suppose you could read every keystroke... Access and retrieve any file from the hard drive without having physical access... No more secrets..."

The company slide show is carefully crafted to generate maximum suspense among Feds and cops straining to find ways around such regrettable obstacles as civil rights.

Thus a series of 'scenarios' guaranteed to get the oppressive juices flowing:

You want to execute an "Electronic No-Knock Search Warrant" by stealth via the Internet to allow surreptitious remote seizure of digital evidence.
What do you use?

Your undercover online investigator makes contact with a suspected pedophile in a chat room. Suspect sends illegal image(s). You now have probable cause. You want to remotely monitor suspect and seize additional evidence from his computer.
What do you use?

Your investigation has determined that your suspects are using strong encryption to protect themselves. You need to "crack" encrypted and/or password protected e-mail and stored files. You don't have the time or money for a "Brute Force attack.
What do you use?

The answer to all the above is, of course, D.I.R.T.

And just what is D.I.R.T.? Why it's a Trojan, pure and simple, which the Feds can feed to targets surreptitiously. It has a point-and-drool GUI and so functions very much like SubSeven on steroids.

It doesn't crack crypto; it simply logs keystrokes, including, obviously, the user's pass phrase. Crude, but effective.

It also defeats all known firewalls, killing the running process, replacing the firewall icon, and allowing a stealth FTP connection.

The D.I.R.T. client can be embedded in Word documents, Excel documents, PowerPoint presentations, RTF documents, Word Perfect documents, Autorun.bat on CD-ROMS and floppy disks, and, coming soon in a free upgrade, Lotus Suite, JavaScript and ActiveX.

Better yet, "D.I.R.T. is user friendly and can be operated by investigators with minimal computer skills," we're told.

Most grotesquely, it enables the Feds to plant bogus evidence on a suspect's computer.

"Sending hidden code to the target PC is simple using the D.I.R.T. 'Bug Generator'. Investigators need not have special computer code writing skills. Just point and click."

A true tool of Fascism if ever we heard of one. And get this: the company discusses it with pride.

Getting around it

Protecting yourself from this diabolical program won't be easy. First, you need to monitor your comp's processes. Anything persistent which you don't recognize/can't explain should result in an immediate re-format with files re-loaded from text-only sources.

For *nix, see this document. For Windows, see this one.

You should run Netstat regularly to monitor all of your active connections. And again, anything persistent which you don't recognize/can't explain should result in an immediate re-format with files re-loaded from text-only sources.

A handy progie which will resolve strange IPs is the free version of the Patrick Project DNS utility. Curious domains can then be traced free and easily via SamSpade.org, which has heaps of useful CGI gateways.

9x corner

If all this strikes you as too technical, then you must be running Win9x, and that means you'd better play it as safe as possible. This, we're sorry to say, means re-formatting on a regular basis, like once a month. Annoying and troublesome, we'll allow; but it's the only way for the technically challenged to prevail against D.I.R.T.

In order to do this successfully, you should ditch every file you don't need during each re-format. Files you do need must first be saved to removable media in plain text with a non-formatting text editor (e.g., Windows Notepad); and you'll need to change your PGP pass phrase (not your key) each time as well.

Now set up your '9x box lean and mean, as if you were a gamer. Go to C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\MSCONFIG.EXE and make a desktop icon for the progie. Activate it, click on the 'STARTUP' tab, kill everything you don't need and re-boot (do NOT kill EXPLORER or SYSTEM TRAY). This will make it easier to keep track of what you have running, and what you should have running, which you can occasionally check with ALT-CTRL-DEL.

Immediately after you re-format, run MSCONFIG.EXE and kill all the rot. Next re-boot, connect to the Internet, and then go ALT-CTRL-DEL and make a note of everything you have running. This list should remain constant. If it ever changes unexpectedly, it's time to re-format again.

This exercise can be helpful, but it's not an authoritative inventory of running processes; so if you're technically challenged, and have reason to fear being infected with D.I.R.T. or some other scumbag Fed Trojan, stick to re-formatting once a month as a precaution.

It wouldn't hurt to change ISPs from time to time as well, which is the only non-technical way to defeat Carnivore (though you IP savants know more convenient methods), just in case the Feds decide to double-team you with their perverse toys. ®

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