Feeds

Skype crypto stumps German cops

Police boss attempts to justify Trojan plan

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

German police have expressed frustration about their inability to decipher the encryption used by Skype in order to tap into the VoIP calls of suspected terrorists.

Lawful interception (or wiretapping) of telephone calls has happened since before the time of rotary phones. In many countries, telecos must promise to allow wiretapping to be granted a license. VoIP services provided by software firms independent of ISPs complicate this picture.

"The encryption with Skype telephone software... creates grave difficulties for us," said Joerg Ziercke, president of Germany's Federal Police Office (BKA) at an annual gathering of security and law enforcement officials. "We can't decipher it. That's why we're talking about source telecommunication surveillance - that is, getting to the source before encryption or after it's been decrypted."

Ziercke's comments are an attempt to justify controversial German plans, yet to be legally approved, to develop "remote forensic software" (AKA a law enforcement Trojan). 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.

The idea of a law enforcement Trojan has sparked a fierce civil liberties debate, as well as objections from the IT security community. German police are reportedly looking to hire two "specialists" to develop "white hat" malware. Ziercke's comments provide an insight into the sort of capabilities, such as capturing the raw output of microphones on compromised PCs, that these law enforcement Trojans ought to have.

Ziercke told reporters that it was not asking Skype to divulge its encryption keys or leave "back doors open" for law enforcement authorities, arguing that such requests would leave the eBay-owned VoIP firm at a competitive disadvantage to other services. "There are no discussions with Skype. I don't think that would help. I don't think that any provider would go for that," he said.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Next page: Uncrackable Skype?

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!
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
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
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
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.