Feeds

Germany seeks malware 'specialists' to bug terrorists

Daft plan gains further traction

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The German government has reportedly started hiring coders to develop "white hat" malware capable of covertly hacking into terrorists' PCs.

The recruitment push signals that the German government is going ahead with controversial plans, yet to be legally approved, to develop "remote forensic software" (AKA a law enforcement Trojan). BKA federal police have been directed by the Interior Ministry to resume the initiative and hire two "specialists"*, AAP reports.

Proposals to give explicit permission for law enforcement officials to plant malware stem from a Federal Court ruling earlier this year declaring clandestine searches of suspects' computers to be inadmissible as evidence, pending a law regulating the practice. Germany's Federal Court of Justice said the practice was not covered by existing surveillance legislation.

The former East Germany, and the country as a whole before the war, has a dark history of official surveillance. The idea of a law enforcement Trojan has sparked a fierce civil liberties debate, as well as objections from the IT security community.

Geoff Sweeney, CTO with security firm Tier-3, said since the Trojans will almost certainly be launched against suspects disguised as a harmless email, they pose a serious IT security threat if they fall into the wrong hands.

"Reworking of malware goes on all the time. If these Trojans are developed specifically for German anti-terrorist usage, it's almost certain that conventional IT security software will have no protection against their usage on civilian PCs," he said.

Law enforcement Trojans, under active consideration in Austria as well as Germany, 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 evidenced by the fuss created when similar plans for a "Magic Lantern" Trojan for law enforcement surfaced some years ago.

Even if, for arguments sake, security firms ignore state-sanctions from the US and Germany, would they also ignore Trojans from the Chinese People's Liberation Army or Nigeria? ®

* Germany has no shortage of convicted VXers potentially up to the job of writing malware. Most notable is Sven Jaschan, self-confessed author of the infamous Sasser worm. Jan de Wit, infamous author of the Anna Kournikova worm, comes from the Netherlands, just over the border with Germany. Thanks to EU rules on free movement of labour, he might also be eligible to apply.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
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.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?