New UK police powers to hack without a warrant

To the outrage of civil liberties groups and the government opposition, the UK Home Office has begun permitting police and MI5 officers to hack ("remote search") people's computers without their knowledge and without a court warrant. Information gleaned can then be shared with other European forces, in line with a shift in EU policy. The goal, as with all such moves, is to track down terrorists, paedophiles, and cybercriminals.

One method for stealth surveillance involves installing spyware on targetted individuals' computers, normally by sending people emails with infected attachments. This can, of course, be done from anywhere. Another method entails hacking directly into people's wifi networks from close range. A third involves law-enforcement officials breaking into people's homes and directly installing spyware, such as keyloggers, or attaching physical monitoring devices to their machines. Any material on such hacked computers would be admissible in court.

This situation is not unlike the controversial powers granted by President Bush to the National Security Agency (NSA) to tap people's communications without their knowledge and without a warrant. In the UK, all that would be needed to justify such an operation would be that an officer "must believe that... it is necessary to prevent or detect serious crime and [the] action is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve," according to ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers).

Shami Chakrabarti, head of the UK civil-liberties group Liberty, questions the legality of the practice, saying, "These are very intrusive powers--as intrusive as someone busting down your door and coming into your home. The public will want this to be controlled by new legislation and judicial authorisation. Without those safeguards it’s a devastating blow to any notion of personal privacy."

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44 Comments

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I'd be scared once anti-virus/anti-spyware software developers mark the "police spyware" as safe. I hope something like this isn't employed in Canada or the US.

Most (but not all) of the surveillance methods which are mentioned in the article could be noticed by your average tech/nerd etc.

For example, most informed computer users would not install an attachment from a 'suspicious' email. The article mentioned hacking directly into people's wifi networks from a close range, if your router is set to use MAC address filtering or WPA2/PSK with a strong passphrase you should be OK. If an agent installed spyware on your PC chances are you'd notice it (checking the processes, running an AV/Malware scan, etc).

I'm beginning to think that all Labour governments in this world are ******. After all our Labour government in Australia is trying to censor the entire internet.

MAC addresses can be sniffed and spoofed to bypass the filter, and WPA2/PSK has already been cracked. The only true wireless security is to simply not use it at all.

While this act can be a little concern to the common citizen but it is a big deal for a business, for example if a politician owner of a shoe factory claim that their competitor is doing "something bad" with their computer, then the UK police can decide to hack the competitor computer, taking accounting data,private information and such without the consent or any court or law, next this information can be "leaked" to the claimer.
Even worst, this law can be used to put a false accusation to some individual, its pretty easy (if you have fairly freedom to do it) to copy a pedophile files then insert into a victim computer.

like to see them try it to international corporate companys like the one i work for in the UK. If they breached our network perimiter and were backtraced and located the authorities who instigated this would get a big fat EU court summons. they would be breaking international law by circumventing and gaining unauthorised entry into private company data.

Aint it amazing what crap theyve rolled out/thought up since the "terrorism" reared up its head in the UK/US.

The thing is, there will always be protection against these kinds of things, it really annoys me when you see a film and they're like "I'm hacking into the computer!!" then three seconds later they're like "Done!", it doesn't work like that.

Also, when someone knows a password of their friend and they're like "I'm going to hack your computer!!"

Ffs.

Truly, i don't known if windows (or any other operating system) have a backdoor or any "trick" to identify or track you, for example the hidden fingerprint in some color printer.

when will goverment understand ... you will not catch criminals/terrorists by treating everyone as one! ... what happen to innocent until proven guilty?

The Labour government will never learn, that's why they have to be voted out. It's just disappointing that Cameron has been such an ineffectual leader in a time when dissatisfaction with Labour is so high.

must believe that... it is necessary to prevent or detect serious crime and [the] action is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve,

so like, if i was walking down the street, and i happen to stand in front of one of their suspects too long, then this is gonna happen to me?

Drip, drip, drip. Welcome to the New World Order, next to come is Martial Law. Why are people surprised?

If you are not doing anything wrong, you should have nothing to hide! QED

Because they're so used to the thought of this being "tinfoil hat" conspiracy. Laughing at people who worried about our future and such. Here it comes though, in full motion. Day by day, week by week, month by month...

So long as there is danger in the world, actions will be taken "for our own safety."

dead.cell said,
So long as there is danger in the world, actions will be taken "for our own safety."

I was always fond of :
"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security" - Benjamin Franklin

That and %^£&*@NO CARRIER

Oh god, not more of this crap. I'll admit to not being the most honest person with my downloading and internet usage, but I'm not exactly a threat to the security of the nation!

They can only watch you if you are on their radar, waiting for you to do something wrong. Knowing my bloody luck, I'll do sweet fanny all and still get lifted!

Our tiny little island off the coast of Europe already runs 23% of the mass total cctv.

How much more can we take?

I thought we won the war?

What it is you see, is that someone in our Labour government read "1984" by George Orwell and thought "He was really on to something there!"

EDIT: Whoops :P

creamhackered said,
Sniffing every packet your cable modem sends out kinda sucks though...


hrmm guess theres not much you can do to stop that. Gone are the days where they use to bust into a place and install keyloggers, or send you emails with malware/trojans as the article alludes to in eras gone by

creamhackered said,
Sniffing every packet your cable modem sends out kinda sucks though...

That's what encryption is for :-)
Also, this (the article) is the stuff that makes me consider encrypting my entire hard drive.

Howard said,
Encrypt your entire drive? What you got hiding on there?

Yes, we all have nothing to hide, so why not just hand over the keys to our house and car to them as well?

Some people here in Australia are going for the same thing. There is no way a government should be allowed to do this if they can why have counts, as they just turn into a show piece we no power.

Thats all fine and dandy.

I guess I'll just have to use internet at my work, and leave my internet at home for work purposes :P

Poor UK, I will laugh at your lack of Freedoms and lack of citizenry participation in government to even stop this. Dont worry though we'll be old mates again soon, Australia isnt too far behind you.

Osiris said,
Poor UK, I will laugh at your lack of Freedoms and lack of citizenry participation in government to even stop this. Dont worry though we'll be old mates again soon, Australia isnt too far behind you.


The nazi party will then declare 'if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear'.

They will probably plant files on your HD's to frame you.

Times like this I always remember seeing people post,"Only in America," because it was. Now it seems to be,"Only in the UK."

Pretty soon, the "only in" saying will just go away as we all become ruled by the same overpowering government. Oddly enough, there used to be so many people that would say,"PUT ON UR TINFOIL HATZ GAIZ," when things like this were discussed...

dead.cell said,
Times like this I always remember seeing people post,"Only in America," because it was. Now it seems to be,"Only in the UK."

Pretty soon, the "only in" saying will just go away as we all become ruled by the same overpowering government. Oddly enough, there used to be so many people that would say,"PUT ON UR TINFOIL HATZ GAIZ," when things like this were discussed...

Oh hai dead.cell.

Skyfrog said,
This really shouldn't be surprising, especially after they start putting up posters like THIS. How much more Orwellian can it get over there?


holy ****, i would freak out if I saw a poster like that! that truely is 1984!

I don't recall the US dollar being covered with eyes that have the CCTV symbol on them and the phrase "Secure Beneath The Watchful Eye" on it so I'm not sure what your point is. Have you read the book Ninteen Eighty-Four? It really is kind of chilling to see all the cameras they have over there now and propaganda like posters telling you not to worry because they are always watching you. Not to mention stories like this one about warrantless spying.

In the book every home had a viewscreen that they used to watch and listen to your every move. London is covered with cameras now, the Big Brother like posters are up, and now they are saying they are allowed to hack into your computer (essentially one way of getting into your home) to see what you've been up to on it. How much further is it to just go ahead and put in the viewscreens? It's kind of scary, really.