Feeds

Organised crime cops seek international hacking powers

Euro-cops could offshore hacking work - to UK

SANS - Survey on application security programs

British law enforcement agents are quietly working with European counterparts on changes to national legislation that will allow them to share intelligence gained by hacking into suspects' PCs.

Sharon Lemon, director of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency's (SOCA) e-crime unit, told The Register data laws in some EU countries make it impossible for investigators to obtain and pool data covertly.

The desired change could mean law enforcement officers in eastern Europe could ask SOCA to hack into a suspect's PC for them and share the data. SOCA said its hacking activities are always within the law.

Lemon refused to be drawn on the specifics of the techniques the agency uses. "As our suspects use ever more sophisticated techniques, so do we," she said.

The SOCA e-crime unit's remit has a strong emphasis on international offending. Lemon said it was vital that use of "remote search" techniques - as hacking is known in law enforcement circles - was extended throughout the EU.

A working group coordinated by Europol, the EU police agency, is examining what legal changes might be required.

In a statement, SOCA said: "From a UK perspective, SOCA use a range of tools and techniques within, but to the full extent of available legal frameworks as required appropriate to each investigation, SOCA does not comment on the detailed use of individual technical tactical options."

UK law already allows for senior law enforcement officers to authorise hacking in the course of an investigation, under the Police Act 1997. According to the Surveillance Commissioner's annual report, in 2007/08 a total of 205 approvals to carry out "remote searches" were granted, up from 188 the previous year.

SOCA is keen for access to intelligence from hacking by foreign law enforcement because of the highly internationalised character of organised crime. "The working group aims to identify best practise, harmonise approaches and deliver an EU consensus on the issues," it said. "The result will be advice to decision makers/law makers at EU level to provide law enforcement with powers."

The working group's activities follow news at the end of last year that Jacqui Smith had signed the UK up to an EU agreement in principle to step up use of remote searches.

SOCA's remit covers drug and people trafficking, fraud and international e-crime. It also manages communications intercept operations for regional police forces. The agency is closely involved with the government's Interception Modernisation Programme, which aims to increase the ability of law enforcement and the intelligence agencies to monitor the internet.

SOCA is apparently pushing that agenda at EU level too. The Europol working group is also considering the use of VoIP and web-based communications by organised criminals. "The aim of the working group is to address all the negative aspects, from a law enforcement perspective, resulting from the developments within communication technology," SOCA said. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.