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German anti terrorism Trojans get second chance

Tier-3 : 20 November, 2007  (Technical Article)
Tier-3 warns of the legality of renewed efforts by the German government to develop malware specifically aimed at compromising terrorist computers but which could affect other computers.
Despite an initial government freeze on plans to use stealth Trojan technology - which were revealed in the media in late August - the German government has started hiring programmers to develop `white hat' malware capable of stealth hacking terrorist's PCs.

'The original plans, which were revealed in the German media in late August and which we warned about, caused such an outcry that the German government reportedly placed the project on hold, pending the passing of new legislation to specifically allow such snooping,' said Geoff Sweeney, CTO with behavioural analysis IT security software vendor Tier-3.

'Despite the new legislation still being in progress, the German government is said to be wasting no time and has now instructed the BKA Federal Police to hire specialist programmers to develop the Trojans,' he added.

According to Sweeney, because the Trojans will almost certainly be launched against suspects disguised as a harmless e-mail, they pose a serious IT security threat if they fall into the wrong hands.

'Reworking of malware goes on all the time. If these Trojans are developed specifically for German anti-terrorist usage, it's almost certain that conventional IT security software will have no protection against their usage on civilian PCs,' he said.

'Companies can therefore only protect themselves against this new type of threat by installing behavioural analysis software on their IT systems. It is to be hoped that the terrorists whose PCs the BKA plans to infect haven't also taken this step of protecting their machines,' he added.

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