Feeds

Germany declares hacking tools 'verboten'

Crackers

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Updates to Germany's computer crime laws banning so-called "hacking tools" have been criticised as ill-considered and counterproductive.

The revamp to the German criminal code is designed to tighten definitions, making denial of service attacks and attempts to sniff data on third-party wireless networks, for example, clearly criminal. Attacks would be punishable by a fine and up to 10 years imprisonment.

Previously, only attacks against companies and government organisations were indictable offences. The regulations, passed last week, also make it illegal for unauthorised users to bypass computer security protection to access secure data.

Under these provision it becomes an offense to create, use or distribute so-called "hacking tools". Critics point out that many of these tools are used by system administrators and security consultants quite legitimately to probe for vulnerabilities in corporate systems.

The distinctions between, for example, a password cracker and a password recovery tool, or a utility designed to run denial of service attacks and one designed to stress-test a network, are not properly covered in the legislation, critics argue. Taken as read, the law might even even make use of data recovery software to bypass file access permissions and gain access to deleted data potentially illegal.

"Forbidding this software is about as helpful as forbidding the sale and production of hammers because sometimes they also cause damage," Chaos Computer Club spokesman Andy Müller-Maguhn told Ars Technica. "Safety research can [now] take place only in an unacceptable legal gray area."

While making life more difficult for security consultants and sys admins, the new laws will, paradoxically, make it easier for police to use hacking tactics in gathering intelligence on suspects. The practice - declared verboten by German courts earlier this year - could be reinstated under the new laws, according to Müller-Maguhn. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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?
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.