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Registered: 06/16/99
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FBI plan keylogging virus
    #472337 - 11/28/01 02:37 PM (14 years, 10 months ago)

AV Vendors Split Over FBI Trojan
Symantec would shun 'Magic Lantern' detection, Sophos says malware is malware
By John Leyden, The Register
Nov 27 2001 1:24PM PT

Antivirus vendors are at loggerheads over whether they should include in their software packages detection for a Trojan horse program reportedly under development by the FBI.

A keystroke logging Trojan, called Magic Lantern, will enable investigators to discover break PGP encoded messages sent by suspects under investigation, MSNBC reports. By logging what a suspect types, and transmitting this back to investigators, the FBI could use Magic Lantern to work out a suspect's passphrase. Getting a target's private PGP keyring is easy in comparison, and with the two any message can be broken.

MSNBC quotes unnamed sources who says that Magic Lantern could be sent to a target by email or planted on a suspect's PC by exploiting common operating system vulnerabilities.

Although unconfirmed, the reports are been taken seriously in the security community, and are consistent with the admitted use of key-logging software in the investigation of suspected mobster Nicodemo Scarfo. In that case, FBI agents obtained a warrant to enter Scarfo's office and install keystroke logging software on his machine.

Magic Lantern, which would be an extension of the Carnivore Internet surveillance program, takes the idea one step further by enabling agents to place a Trojan on a target's computer without having to gain physical access.

The suggested technique creates a clutch of legal, ethical and technical issues. Greater powers in the Patriot Act, which Congress is considering, may allow the tool to be used. But what if it was modified for use by hackers?

And antivirus vendors are mulling over the rights and wrongs of putting Magic Lantern on their virus definition list.

Eric Chien, chief researcher at Symantec's antivirus research lab, said that provided a hypothetical keystroke logging tool was used only by the FBI, then Symantec would avoid updating its antivirus tools to detect such a Trojan. The security firm is yet to hear back from the FBI on its inquiries about Magic Lantern but it already has a policy on the matter.

"If it was under the control of the FBI, with appropriate technical safeguards in place to prevent possible misuse, and nobody else used it - we wouldn't detect it," said Chien. "However we would detect modified versions that might be used by hackers."

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, disagrees. He says it it wrong to deliberately refrain from detecting the virus, because its customers outside the U.S. would expect protection against the Trojan. Such a move also creates an awkward precedent.

Cluley adds: "What if the French intelligence service, or even the Greeks, created a Trojan horse program for this purpose? Should we ignore those too?"

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Edited by mm. (11/28/01 05:33 PM)

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Re: FBI plan keylogging virus [Re: mm.]
    #472346 - 11/28/01 02:46 PM (14 years, 10 months ago)

I guess the paranoids should start using anti-virus software from overseas...

Life does not have to be necessarily long. It just has to be good. Be wise. Peace, Love, Flower Power.

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Registered: 10/29/99
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Re: FBI plan keylogging virus [Re: Teiro]
    #473633 - 11/29/01 03:39 PM (14 years, 10 months ago)

I wonder what the Criteria for being a 'suspect' are...but even without adressing /that/ question...what about the one concerning Right to Privacy? In the past, you had to be charged with a crime for a 'search and seizure' of your property (at least leagally). Now all you have to be is a suspect. That is a dangerous prescedent. But perhaps it shouldn't be completely unexpected considering the information in Lana's post on The Patriot Act...where the United States does everything but declare that it considers the whole of the Internet to be part of it's economic territory. Perhaps it is now all computers - all computers are property of the United States, we don't need to worry about /your/ privacy rights because you're using /our/ machine in essence. It's the same logic they use in public schools and libraries.


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Re: FBI plan keylogging virus [Re: mm.]
    #473696 - 11/29/01 04:38 PM (14 years, 10 months ago)

Why the hell would the FBI need a "mailworm" keystroke logging virus when they allready have a legal right to eavsdrop thu the black boxes they have installed at the ISP's?

I suposed it might serve a purpose for the internet use in non US countrys though.


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Registered: 07/21/00
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Re: FBI plan keylogging virus [Re: Jammer]
    #474610 - 11/30/01 12:16 PM (14 years, 10 months ago)

jammer, not all
activity on a computer takes place through an ISP or on the internet.

***The Real Shroomery nigger

Edited by PGF (11/30/01 12:17 PM)

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Re: FBI plan keylogging virus [Re: PGF]
    #474619 - 11/30/01 12:21 PM (14 years, 10 months ago)

That be a good point.


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Re: FBI plan keylogging virus [Re: Jammer]
    #477166 - 12/02/01 04:02 PM (14 years, 10 months ago)

In addition, if you use ecryption those black boxes are no good. A keylogger would circumvent this in just getting what you type as you type it.

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