CEBIT - Malware to fight crime? AV companies say no

Security companies said they won't makes exceptions to allow secretive software to be used by law enforcement to spy on Internet users.

What if the good guys started using the tools of the bad guys to catch the bad guys, but other good guys stopped them from doing that?

German police officials have expressed interest in developing software tools to help them surveil computer users who may be involved in crime. The tools might include types of software similar to those used in online fraud and theft schemes, such as programs that record keystrokes, logins and passwords. Security companies, however, are asserting that they wouldn't make exceptions to their software to accommodate, for example, Trojan horse programs planted by law enforcement on users' computers.

Magnus Kalkuhl, a virus analyst with Kaspersky Lab, said on Thursday at Cebit that Germany confirmed in January it plans to invest Euro 200,000 (AUD$335,000) in the idea and fund two programmers. The project has been informally dubbed the "Bundestrojaner," which translates literally from German to English as "Federal Trojan."

Two recent court rulings in Germany, however, have thrown doubt on whether use of such technology -- without knowledge of the targeted users -- would comply with German law regarding searches, Kalkuhl said.

Germany's Chaos Computer Club said last month it opposes the government program and such online searches and monitoring violate a user's fundamental rights.

The issue may be moot if online criminals use antivirus or antimalware security software, which are designed to detect Trojan horses and viruses and scrub them from a machine.

While it could be compelled to help law enforcement with changes in the law, Kaspersky wouldn't modify its software to allow a clandestine police program to infect a computer. Such a change would be at odds with what its software is intended to do, Kalkuhl said.

"The decision is based on what the program does, not who wrote it," Kalkuhl said at Cebit.

F-Secure, a security company based in Helsinki, decided in 2001 that it also wouldn't modify its software at the request of law enforcement, said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer. For example, granting an exception for French police would open a door to requests from other countries, he said.

"Where would you draw the line?" Hypponen said. "We are not going to draw the line at all."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?