Critical Read

How to defend against government hackers

 

What:  The 188-page "Challenging Government Hacking In Criminal Cases” report, released by the American Civil Liberties Union on March 30, addresses new amendments to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which took effect last December.

Why: Federal law enforcement agencies are allowed to deploy malware against investigative targets to access, control, disable or monitor a computer’s use and activity.

Under the changes to criminal procedure rules, feds can remotely search computers in multiple jurisdictions with a single warrant. The rules are touted by law enforcement agencies as a way to streamline 100-year-old rules of criminal procedure, which had posed obstacles to investigating botnets and other computer crimes.

The ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said in their new report that the new capability can have implications beyond botnets and child pornography rings and result in "increasingly intrusive searches."

Verbatim: "Most frequently, law enforcement deploys malware in order to identify users who seek to anonymize themselves online. In recent cases, a single … warrant has allowed the FBI to collect identifying information from thousands of computers, including each computer's IP address, operating system, 'MAC address' (a unique identifier assigned to each network interface), and active username (the account under which an individual user has logged onto the device)."

Click here to read the full report.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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