Feeds

Austria OKs terror snooping Trojan plan

Silly idea gains steam

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Austria has become one of the first countries to officially sanction the use of Trojan Horse malware as a tactic for monitoring the PCs of suspected terrorists and criminals.

The measures were reportedly discussed in an Austrian cabinet meeting last week and turned over to a group of legal and technical experts to thrash out the details of the scheme. Pending approval, Austrian law enforcement officers could begin using the tactic as early as next year.

Austrian measures would parallel those under consideration by Germany thereby "facilitating the international sharing of data found in secret online searches", Heise reports.

The policy - announced last week by the Austrian Interior Minister Gunther Plater - is fraught with difficulties, according to security watchers.

"Minister Plater has said that the Trojan malware will only be used against suspected terrorists and serious criminals, and will require a court order. That isn't much protection, and I am extremely concerned about this software falling into the wrong hands," said Geoff Sweeney, CTO of Tier-3, the behavioural software IT security firm.

Sweeney expressed the concern that Trojan horse malware created for the use of law enforcement could easily fall into the hands of hackers, who might repurpose it for use in identity theft or industrial espionage.

As El Reg has argued before, proposals for law enforcement to use Trojans are a thoroughly bad idea.

Would-be terrorists need only use Ubuntu Linux to avoid the ploy. And even if they stuck with Windows their anti-virus software might detect the malware. Anti-virus firms that accede to law enforcement demands to turn a blind eye to state-sanctioned malware risk undermining trust in their software, as similar experience in the US has shown. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.