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Details on the German government malware's applications
12 points by kahawe 1929 days ago | hide | past | web | 3 comments | favorite
The German (more specifically Bavarian) newspaper "Süddeutsche Zeitung" (sz) reports details of investigations where the "Bundestrojaner" (government malware) was actually used in Bavaria.[1] I could not find a similar source in English so allow me to summarize.

Some background first: The malware's initial purpose and intention was to provide means of wire-tapping otherwise encrypted communications (skype, https etc.) by listening in right at the source. So, basically they would install the malware on your PC either by covertly entering your home or e.g. while checking your laptop at the airport. Needless to say, these actions are very grave invasions of your privacy, thus the premise for the Bundestrojaner always was: authorities are only allowed to use this in cases of very serious crime and to counter very serious threats - needless to say, it was sold as a means to prevent against terrorism. And it was stated very clearly that it is only allowed to do wire-tapping and technical measures must prevent the software from doing anything else! The CCC's analysis of the malware a few days ago[2] showed that it goes far beyond that and even offers means of accessing your hard disk and loading additional modules once it has been installed on your system - and that this functionality was intentionally obfuscated in the machine code, so whoever developed that thing clearly knew what they were developing was very illegal.

So, the sz reports 5 cases in Bavaria in which the Bundestrojaner was used and not a single one of them qualifies as "serious crime", rather they were fighting petty crooks and scammers:

In one case, they could not get sufficient evidence against a group illegally selling pharmaceutical products and narcotics but the malware (unlawfully!) yielded them 60.000 screenshots - this is the same laptop that the suspect's lawyer then gave to the CCC for analyzing.

In the second case, they used the malware against a group of online scammers selling electrical appliances which they would then not deliver but take your money. They are suspected to have scammed around 120.000 people for around 10 million Euros. The malware was installed by covertly gaining physical access to one of their systems. (The shocking amount of victims aside, this is still petty crime.)

In another case, authorities used the malware to crack down on a group of fences who stole clothes and hygiene products and sold them overseas. They took screenshots but ultimately couldn't make a successful case against the group in court.

In the last case in sz's article, they installed the malware remotely to monitor a man selling doping to bouncers. He has a prior record of theft and scamming and was sentenced to four years.

sz goes on to sum up a few more instances in other German states where the malware was used, again just to monitor organized crime and organized drug-related crime.

So, clearly none of the cases qualify as very severe crime. According to sz, the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) rejected an early version of the malware specifically for the reason that it offered means of taking screenshots and allowing access to the hard disk; a later version that only offered wire-tapping was found usable, though. The malware found and analyzed by CCC is said to be that older version, according to its maker Digitask.

I, for one, am going to put my tin foil beanie back on and switch to a more obscure OS and architecture combination - and on a more serious note, I feel let down by how unprofessional and downright clueless the government over here handles pretty much all technology related matters. We need stronger pirates more than ever.

[1] http://www.sueddeutsche.de/digital/spaeh-affaere-wie-bayern-mit-dem-trojaner-kleinkriminelle-jagte-1.1159712

[1] (google translate) http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sueddeutsche.de%2Fdigital%2Fspaeh-affaere-wie-bayern-mit-dem-trojaner-kleinkriminelle-jagte-1.1159712

[2] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3088687

The German government reportedly paid €2M to have the spying malware developed:


Spawn of Stazi dogs. Thankfully USA has this shit well covered off with 4th-A. Unthinkable.

USA? Shit well covered? 4th-Amendment? Your information is a bit out of date there my friend; the USA did it first:


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