Feeds

EU cybercrime strategy backs law enforcement Trojan

Remote searches? Nein danke

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Remote searches of suspects' computers could become a mainstay of cybercrime investigations under a new EU strategy announced last week.

The EU Council of Ministers also agreed closer cooperation between law enforcement agencies across Europe, including joint investigation teams. The five-year plan devised by the ministers also includes more information exchange on best practices, criminal trends and the like between law enforcement agencies and the private sector, and more cyber patrols.

The financial impact of cybercrime remains a bit of a mystery, not helped by the lack of well-organised reporting structures in Europe. As a short-term fix the EU has earmarked €300,000 for Europol to establish a clearing house (or perhaps desk, given the small sums involved) for crimes committed on the internet, such as the distribution of images of child abuse.

The EU cites computer viruses, spam, ID theft and child pornography as its main concerns. "Images of sexually abused children available online quadrupled in the last five years and half of all internet crime involves the production, distribution and sale of child pornography," a declaration from the meeting states.

Many of the measures agreed by the Council of Ministers continue with existing policies in areas such as closer European coordinating and cooperation in the fight against cybercrime. The increased use of remote searches stands out as a new, and controversial, direction in policy.

In practical terms, remote searches would involve planting law enforcement Trojans on suspects' PCs. Police in Germany are most enthusiastic about pushing this tactic, the sort of approach even Vic Mackey from The Shield might baulk at, despite its many potential drawbacks, highlighted by El Reg on numerous occasions.

For starters, infecting the PC of a target of an investigation is hit and miss. Malware is not a precision weapon, and that raises the possibility that samples of the malware might fall into the hands of cybercrooks.

Even if a target does get infected there's a good chance any security software they've installed will detect the malware. Any security vendor who agreed to turn a blind eye to state-sanctioned Trojans would risk compromising their reputation, as amply illustrated by the Magic Lantern controversy in the US a few years back.

Then there are the civil liberties implications of the approach and questions about whether evidence obtained using the tactic is admissable in court.

Despite all these problems the idea of a law enforcement Trojan continues to gain traction and could become mainstream within five years, if EU ministers get their way. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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 next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.