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FBI Seeks License To Hack Bot-Infected PCs
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Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2014 | 3:31:57 PM
Criminally dumb
"Cue the potential for large numbers of innocent bystanders having their computers and cloud accounts searched by the FBI, despite facing no reasonable suspicion of having done anything wrong."

They allowed their computers to be sucked into botnets. How is it different from someone allowing through negligence a piece of physical property -- say an empty house --  to be used as a base for criminal activity?  
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2014 | 3:35:54 PM
Re: Criminally dumb
I suppose there's something to be said for the FBI seeking permission. It's not much, but it's something.
Robert McDougal
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Robert McDougal,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2014 | 4:08:33 PM
Re: Criminally dumb
I have to disagree.  Many of these computers are infected because the owners are technological illiterate.  That fact doesn't make it ok for the FBI, or anyone else, to further hack into their computers and seize their personal data.

This is far too much power for the FBI to possess.  
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2014 | 4:12:30 PM
Re: Criminally dumb
Not sure anyone is arguing it's OK to sieze data unrelated to the attacks. Just as arguably the FBI is doing the company a favor if it checks botnets and finds that the owner is unaware, and notifies the company or individual. 

Offensive security is coming. This is a small step along that path. Better to make the attempt to regulate it with judicial checks than to drive it underground.
Robert McDougal
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Robert McDougal,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2014 | 4:29:10 PM
Re: Criminally dumb
Offensive security is acceptable if it is directed at a legitimate attacker.  However, at the heart of this proposal is this little nugget:
One change contained in the proposal would allow judges to sign warrants that authorize remote access by the FBI to search electronic storage media and to seize or copy electronically stored information if the location of the computer has been concealed through technological means, or for cases involving systems located in five or more districts -- for example, if they're being used as part of a botnet.

So, in actuallity we are discussing allowing the FBI the power to copy or seize data from innocent people.  Additionally, the FBI will then be able to use the "Plain View Doctrine" to bring charges against the people they hacked.

In my opinion, they should have the ability to remotely attack a legitimate threat but not members of a botnet.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2014 | 4:45:58 PM
Re: Criminally dumb
Extending that argument, how should the FBI distinguish a legitimate threat from some dumb schmuck in a botnet without looking at the data on the device in question? Chicken and egg, right?
Robert McDougal
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Robert McDougal,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2014 | 4:57:33 PM
Re: Criminally dumb
Actually, I don't understand the purpose of investigating the actual compromised machines in the first place.  If I wanted to understand how this botnet functioned I would simply create a VM and purposefully infect it and then study it.  In that way you are better able to understand how the botnet works and monitor for communication coming from the owner of the botnet.

I see no value in remotely hacking into someones compromised machine when you can produce the same machine in a sandbox.
securityaffairs
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securityaffairs,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2014 | 5:37:35 PM
Re: Criminally dumb
Feds agencies simply continue to do what they are already doing, hacking on internal and foreign systems, they are just searching for a plausible consensus, but I think this could not be accepted in the way it has been formulated in the US proposal. Think a foreign government that makes a similar proposal and authorize itself to hack US-based computers. Absurd!

 

 
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
5/13/2014 | 6:35:12 AM
More of the same
As if Federal authorities needed more clearance to access the personal data of citizens and foreign nationals. Botnet infected PCs are often unsuspecting end users, not those that are deliberately part of a regime of nefarious hackers. 

This will simply mean that anyone who's been infected by malware is a more legitimate target than ever for federal spying. 
GonzSTL
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GonzSTL,
User Rank: Ninja
5/13/2014 | 10:01:45 AM
Re: Criminally dumb
Completely agree! Steve Gibson did a similar thing years ago when his site was taken down by a teenager. He may still have the complete analysis on his website. By infiltrating the botnet and C&C, he saw exactly what kind of communication was transpiring between the bots and the command center.

The scary part of this request is the desire to copy electronic data residing on an infected computer. Imagine what kind of personal and financial information they will harvest from this operation.
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