Australian Law Enforcement Wants The Right To Hack Computers

from the the-modern-wiretap dept

As technology changes, so does the demands of law enforcement officials to figure out better ways to spy on your use of that technology. For example, efforts to wiretap Skype conversations has been a popular subject among law enforcement around the world. Down in Australia, the police are now looking for the right to hack your computer. At the very least, it would require a warrant, but a judge could authorize the police to hack into your computer and monitor it for up to 7 days at a time and not tell the owners for up to three years (depending on the circumstances -- and it would require several approved extensions for it to last that long). Not surprisingly, this is rather controversial, and security companies in particular have made it clear they want no part of this (i.e., they won't create backdoors) and fully expect their products to block such hacking attempts. How long until new legislation is proposed that forces security vendors to change their minds about that as well?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Brad Hubbard, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 5:59pm

    How long until new legislation is proposed that forces security vendors to change their minds about that as well?

    About two days less than it takes someone to create a virus or malicious monitoring service that will exploit said back doors.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 6:05pm

    Does Australia make it a point to recycle the US government's bad technology ideas?

    This sounds rather like the intent of the (thankfully killed) Clipper chip.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 6:32pm

    These fools (Australian Law Enforcement) are making the classical mistake of unforscene consequences. They are assuming that computer systems are Windows not realizing that their action will advance Linux, BSD, and a dozen of other less known systems who great advantage is that not only are they not known but that they are almost impossible to hack. In the realm of data transmission there are codes and then there are codes within codes all of which can be employed within a network that to all outward viewers looks to be nothing but a simple Windows system.

     

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  4.  
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    Reboot the Gateway, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 6:38pm

    Who ?

    Ha !
    They just assume that such a feat is possible.
    Never mind that some computers are more difficult ot hack than others ...
    So who are they going to get to do this for them ?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:07pm

    I have one thing to say to them: Please, do - that would convert 90% of windows users to GNU/Linux users - which is uncrackable unless your deliberately cripple yourself.

    Good fucking luck cracking SELinux!

     

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  6.  
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    76% of all stats are made up on the spot, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:14pm

    Re:

    90% of those 90% wouldn't even be aware of what happend to them.

    Dont be so confident about your OS. Given enough resources, your precious box will fall, but who is going to do it - cause certainly the cops do not the expertise.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:16pm

    might this be another attempt by the "majors" to see who downloads what? hum....

     

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  8.  
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    Reboot the Gateway, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:22pm

    I have heard of such a box

    "Oh, the Aussie Law is the power in these waters, true enough. But there's no box as can match my OS for security."

    "I've heard of one, supposed to be very secure, nigh unhackable... The Black Boxen."

    "Well, there's no real box as can match my OS."

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Re:

    Ever hear of Tin Hat linux? Look it up. Oh, and yes, I can statistically prove how impossible it is to break into it. Naturally, I don't use javascript of flash on it.

    The other alternative is to run linux on an old box with a few megs of ram - their viruses wouldn't run on it :P
    Using a different chip architecture will help too.

    But you might be right about those people not being aware - I have no experience with Australians, although I hear their elections are all won by FUD.

     

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  10.  
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    Jesse, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:33pm

    "About two days less than it takes someone to create a virus or malicious monitoring service that will exploit said back doors."

    No kidding, how could anyone argue that exploiting said backdoors would even be illegal, considering they were put in place for the explicit purpose of allowing outside access. Afterall, it isn't illegal to enter someone's house if the door is unlocked (it's illegal to take something though).

    If you are going to do that, lets just do away with security altogether and just say it is illegal to enter someone's computer without permission.

     

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  11.  
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    Overcast, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:36pm

    Just put up a Honeypot for them, lol

     

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  12.  
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    Reboot the Gateway, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: unhackable

    "I can statistically prove how impossible it is to break into it."

    Do not be so naive. It would take quite a bit more resources than a simple winbox, but it is not impossilbe. Even the hardened versions of *nix can be overcome. The only truely secure box is one that is powered off and locked up in a vault to which there is no key, and even then ...

     

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  13.  
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    Make My Day Law, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:47pm

    Re:

    "it isn't illegal to enter someone's house if the door is unlocked "

    Are you sure?
    Are you providing legal advice?

    What would you do, uninvited in a someones house, if you heard the slide action of a pump 12 gauge chambering a round?

    You might need a change of shorts?

     

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  14.  
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    Kyros, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 8:10pm

    So the security companies might be forced to build backdoors...but what about open source? What if I do my own security? Sure, it's probably far from perfect, but it'd mess with the police newbs running keylogger installs remotely...

    I suppose it all could end up being very entertaining =D

     

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  15.  
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    Donk240978, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 9:47pm

    It is illegal to enter a persons home, property or premises uninvited, regardsless of whether or not a door is unlocked... It's called Trespass...

     

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  16.  
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    peter, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 9:53pm

    Re: clipper chip

    haha..maybe they just told you it was killed???

     

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  17.  
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    Sniff Your Own, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 10:06pm

    Re: Re: clipper chip

    Will their backdoor clipper chip rootkit be able to spoof the likes of ethereal/wireshark?

     

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  18.  
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    Dallas IT Guy, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 10:42pm

    Re:

    "It is illegal to enter a persons home, property or premises uninvited, regardsless of whether or not a door is unlocked... It's called Trespass..."

    and in Texas it will get you killed. Really. A homeowner can use deadly force in many, many situations.

     

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  19.  
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    BTR1701, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 5:28am

    Re: Trespass

    > Afterall, it isn't illegal to enter someone's
    > house if the door is unlocked

    Umm... yes it is. You can't just go walking around other people's homes merely because they don't lock the door.

    Try it and see how fast you get locked up for breaking and entering, and then listen close as your lawyer explains to you that the "breaking" part isn't really about physically breaking a lock or door or window as most people think. It's a holdover from old English which means "breaking the close", the close being the threshold of a residence. So even if a door is wide open, if you cross the threshold without permission, you're breaking and entering the residence and you can-- and most likely will-- do time for it.

     

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  20.  
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    sajjon, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 6:57am

    Almost right

    "Breaking the close" only refers to trespass of land: The common law trespass of unlawful entering upon the land of another. 187 S.E. 349, 350

    "Breaking and entering" however does involve moving ANYTHING in order to enter a residence.

    n. 1) the criminal act of entering a residence or other enclosed property through the slightest amount of force (even pushing open a door), without authorization. If there is intent to commit a crime, this is burglary. If there is no such intent, the breaking and entering alone is probably at least illegal trespass, which is a misdemeanor crime.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re: Re: clipper chip

    Are you seriously asking if Hardware can lie to software?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:41am

    Re:

    they are almost impossible to hack.

    That's pretty false. Scripting in some kernal commands on Linux is a lot easier than trying to land on a running Windows box and figure out where the right DLLs are in memory. Not, as you'll note, that that's stopped anyone from hacking Windows. You're saying Linux etc. are better because "no one knows about them," but security through obscurity is doomed to fail.

     

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  23.  
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    Chris, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

    Moving to australia

    Sounds like I need to move to Australia and work for the law down there, a White-Hat would be in high demand.

     

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  24.  
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    VRP, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Almost right

    Some schools teach that every state sets their own [criminal] laws. And many judges in each state have their own independent interpretations thereupon. Even precedents get rev'd., or ignored, particularly by juries. So much for citations and common law!

    VRP

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    VRP, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    Re:

    More likely IMO, it'll spell the end of all computers. 95% of the computer owners will quickly destroy all their machines and storage devices. The remaining, will be laughed at, just as horse-and=buggy users are today.

    VRP

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 6:09pm

    Think I'll move there. seen britian?

    http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/01/uk-approves-pol.html

    "The UK's Home Office is supporting a proposal that would allow British police or MI5 agents to hack home, office and other private computers without a warrant to intercept e-mail traffic and monitor a user's other computer activities."

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Re:

    "but security through obscurity is doomed to fail."

    and this is why microsoft is doomed to fail

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Reboot the Gateway, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: clipper chip

    As I recall, the clipper was for encryption, with a back door.
    If the cops are going to hack your box so that they can look at all your porn, then you should be able to detect the additional traffic - no? How is some hardware encryption going to spoof the amount of traffic being monitored by a sniffer?

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2009 @ 8:02pm

    Re:

    "No kidding, how could anyone argue that exploiting said backdoors would even be illegal, considering they were put in place for the explicit purpose of allowing outside access. Afterall, it isn't illegal to enter someone's house if the door is unlocked (it's illegal to take something though)."

    Wrong. That is illegal and called trespassing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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