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US DOJ on How to Fight Cybercrime

By the Epopt in MLP
Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 10:20:25 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

The U.S. Department of Justice just published new guidelines for police and prosecutors in cases involving computer crimes. It discusses recent court cases and new topics such as encryption, PDAs and secret searches.

Some highlights:

  • If arrested, you will be patted down for guns, contraband and electronic devices. Be sure to yank the batteries from your pager and your PDA if you're about to be nabbed. During an arrest, cops can study information on them without a warrant.
  • It transpires that the feds aren't supposed to haul away your computer gear and impound it. Instead, they should either print out or copy files. However, off-site searches may be necessary if agents have reason to believe that the computer has been booby trapped. "Technically adept users may know how to trip-wire their computers with self-destruct programs that could erase vital evidence if the system were examined by anyone other than an expert. In these cases, it is best to seize the equipment and permit an off-site expert to disarm the program before any search occurs."
  • Similarly, the Justice Department thinks that "no knock" searches, where jackbooted thugs break down your door and kill everyone in sight, are even more necessary when dealing with computer crimes. "Technically adept computer hackers have been known to use 'hot keys,' computer programs that destroy evidence when a special button is pressed. If agents knock at the door to announce their search, the suspect can simply press the button and activate the program to destroy the evidence," the manual says.
  • "Sneak-and-Peek" searches are the latest trend in law enforcement: surreptitious breaking-and-entering of homes and offices. Recently, the feds sneaked into the office of Nicodemo S. Scarfo, the son of Philadelphia's former mob boss, and secretly installed software to sniff Scarfo's PGP passphrase. "Sneak-and-peek searches may prove useful in searches for intangible computer data. For example, agents executing a sneak-and-peek warrant to search a computer may be able to enter a business after hours, search the computer, and then exit the business without leaving any sign that the search occurred," the Justice Department says.
  • But there is one faint glimmer of hope. The manual points out that under current law, anyone with access to the computer you use -- including your spouse -- can allow the feds to search it without a warrant. However, "it appears likely that encryption and password-protection would in most cases indicate the absence of common authority to consent to a search among co-users who do not know the password or possess the encryption key."

I'd recommend good filesystem encryption.


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US DOJ on How to Fight Cybercrime | 13 comments (12 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
FS encryption (4.00 / 6) (#2)
by ksandstr on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 08:36:17 AM EST

Also, do take a look at The international linux kernel patch. It includes, among other things, the encrypted loopback device patch. (I'm sure the BSD-heads among us have their own way of doing the same thing...)

hear, hear (3.33 / 3) (#5)
by fvw on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 11:26:59 AM EST

Encryption via loopback is great. I personally have several fs's encrypted over loopback, great way to keep whatever needs keeping out out, feel like you're protecting your privacy, and the speed penalty is unnoticable in normal use. (though copying from several encrypted disks to other encrypted disks at the same time will stall on the cpu, not the disk... )

[ Parent ]
Too Many Bad Movies (4.40 / 5) (#3)
by Matrix on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 08:54:10 AM EST

Sounds like they've been watching too many "'hacker' destroys the planet" movies. "A program that erases data when a special key is pressed"? Well, you can't make it too easy, or you get: "Ooops! Did I hit ctrl AND shift? Guess I'll have to re-enter all one thousand lines of code again!" And too hard would defeat the purpose: Cops break in on guy holding down keys with both hands and trying to hit the big red button with his nose. As for the expert detecting programs, I'm not even going to comment on that....

Basically, it sounds like this is the DoJ excusing some of the shadier things their agents do in pursuit of those evil skr1pt k1dd13z who cost everyone millions of dollars of damage a year...

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett

Shrug (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by Anonymous 7324 on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 06:47:32 PM EST

so the guy was indeed overdramatizing. But whatever ...

How fast can you type:

your password
rm -rf /

I can do it pretty fast -- and the rm will be complete definitely before a cop breaks down my door.

(A utility to overwrite all superblocks is left as an exercise for the reader, I guess.)

[ Parent ]
Reminds me of quadruple bucky :) (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by Toojays on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 06:52:58 PM EST

The idea of the guy hitting the big red button with his nose made me chuckle, remembering the Jargon file's entry for quadruple bucky.

[ Parent ]
Exactly. (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by Matrix on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 02:19:31 PM EST

That was exactly what came to my mind when reading through the article, and why I wrote my comment that way. ^_^

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

gangster pursuit (none / 0) (#12)
by hany on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 04:35:47 AM EST

... agents do in pursuit of those evil skr1pt k1dd13z who cost everyone millions of dollars of damage a year...

It would be far more usefull if the DoJ figures out how one can go after MS or MS product users for damages caused by usage of MS products in conjunction with say Melissa, IloveYOU, ...

One even does not have to use them and still can be a victim - imagine you can't send e-mail of your life just because a big chunk of Outlook installations caused necessary mail server(s) to not work. And you loose a big opportunity just because of that ...

And when they (DoJ) figure that out, they can continue ... there is other software, which is missused and causing damages (maling agens - spam; virus scanners - a lot of junk messages; ...)

Making a dissaster with car is (mostly) a crime. Making dissasters with computer should be treated accordingly.


[ Parent ]
Scary (2.57 / 7) (#4)
by sl4ck0ff on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 09:17:42 AM EST

I don't like that idea at all, it's pretty scary. I'll have to read those guidelines. Thank God for filesytem encryption. Why is everyone out to get someone with computer knowledge? That's what it seems sometimes.
/me has returned to slacking
Well (3.66 / 3) (#6)
by Anonymous 7324 on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 06:43:46 PM EST

Computer knowledge represents not only a substantial increase in freedom and power for the user in a society where electronic devices are almost ubiquitous, but also represents a reasonable level of intelligence.

The last thing a government wants is a group of powerful and intelligent individuals able to resist and challenge its authority. As a result, it's fair to expect severe repression, even when it grossly undermines basic human rights.

[ Parent ]
addition (none / 0) (#13)
by hany on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 04:48:43 AM EST

I agree with you.

I just want ot add this to you argument:

a) Nature works by somethink like Darwin law - weakest entities die. Nature works for few million years.

b) People societies (so called "modern vestern" ones) works by theire own laws - weakest entities are protected (because they are mass and represents source of power for so called leaders) and strongest ones are pushed away (destroyed, disciminated, ...). Such societies are here say for maximum of tew thousands of years.

I wonder who is right: Nature or Modern Western Societies? Time will show.


[ Parent ]
God save us... (2.16 / 6) (#9)
by GandalfGreyhame on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 04:48:26 AM EST

We're becoming like slashdot... two stories on the same subject... noo!!! I can see the green starting to leak into the color scheme.... save us! somebody, save us! Nooooooooooooooo! rusty is... oh no, he's turning into RustyTaco!

I'm meeeelting!


For the humorously-challenged (1.00 / 1) (#11)
by GandalfGreyhame on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:50:39 PM EST

The above post was a JOKE =P Geez...


[ Parent ]

US DOJ on How to Fight Cybercrime | 13 comments (12 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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