back to article Germany floats Trojan for terror suspects

German politicians have defended plans to email Trojan horse software to terror suspects in the hopes of monitoring their conversations. The measures have sparked a fierce civil liberties debate. The dubious efficacy of the wheeze is yet to come under serious consideration. Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is seeking …


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  1. BitTwister

    Even simpler

    "Would-be terrorists need only use Ubuntu Linux to avoid the ploy."

    Or just run *anything* except Windows.

  2. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Big Brother ........

    An interesting to story to hide the presence of an already deployed ubiquitous service across networking hubs/routers? QuITe clever stealth to cover tracks and in-roads already made? Usually sensitive civil services are spin-offs of even more advanced and sensitive military services........ although these may be most unusual times for both with CyberSpace being a steep learning curve with everyone at the start.

    That would signal a most probable Opportunity Bonanza for a Competent Endeavour able to deliver Requirements to Order for Order........ not that Joe Public would ever get to hear about it, though. Some things are sometimes best left .........well, ambiguous would allow for flexibility.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Invading Polish PCs first

    So they'll send this malware to invade the PCs of suspected terrorists in Poland, Russian, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France, then on to the African continent.... the battle for PCs in Tobruk will be hard fought, but this time wictory will be ours!

    Heil Merkel, Heil Merkel, Heil....

    But that's OK, because Britain's cybercrime law is being extended to apply to the rest of Europe, and the EU arrest warrant means that Britain can send their arrest warrants flying over to Germany and snatch the leaders bringing them back to blighty for punishment right under the noses of the cunning hun courts.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A new all time low for The Reg

    While I both want and expect The Reg to report on these matters, I think the use of the phrase "Baldrick-style cunning plan" is uncalled for!

    I'm sure even the Baldrick of the Black Adder series 1 knows enough about computers to dismiss ze Germans Trojan idea, and even the later Baldrick(s) would recognize the plan as anything but cunning!

    I sincerely hope Baldrick reads your article, and drops his turnip long enough, to sue your asses!



  5. Colin Miller


    Surely receiving an unexpected .exe would alert a net-savvy suspect that the Verfassungsschutz is onto what they are up to, and they'd should start covering up better?

  6. Simon Round


    "Baldrick-style cunning plan"

    Couldn't possible be. There's no turnips involved!

  7. Dave Murray

    Catches the useless, ignores the dangerous

    So this will catch stupid terrorists like the ones that drove a car into Glasgow Airport. (I'm from Glasgow, they were very stupid. Anyone could cause much more damage and loss of life if they spent 5 minutes watching the airport and working out a plan.)

    But the more dangerous, intelligent terrorists will not open the unsolicited email in German with an attachment and be able to carry on their business without being caught.

    I feel safer already.

  8. Mike Richards

    German trojans

    Come on folks - get real, this is going to be a German product - designed with typical Teutonic precision and thoroughness for the optimal consumer experience.

    When you inadvertantly install the trojan; it will distract you with a breezy Hasselhoffian anthem and shimmer with pictures of pleasingly racially diverse groups of children playing amongst September sunflowers.

    Then you'll have to read the EULA (available in five different languages, Braille, sign and mime); agree to have all your personal information sent to the BKA (unless of course you don't want to); click through the compulsory instructions on what to do about recycling the product when it reaches the end of its lifespan (just look for the green dot) and THEN you'll be ready to be subverted.

  9. Gareth

    Turnip found

    ""Baldrick-style cunning plan"

    Couldn't possible be. There's no turnips involved!""

    I present, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

  10. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Headline grabbing is what is' about

    While the mooted trojans are indeed a joke I suspect the suggestion has been leaked to test waters and also to divert attention. Schäuble whose resemblance to Dr. Strangelove was once purely coincidental - he was himself victim of a bomb attack - also recently mooted the idea of suspending habeas corpus in crime prevention and surveillance. Fortunately the minister of justice was awake and pointed out that habeas corpus only applies in court whereas unproven suspicion is an essential part of crime prevention. That suggestion as well as this more recent one are, therefore, either evidence that Schäuble is barking (quite possible) or simply part of the tactic: see how the public reacts to the most far-fetched schemes we can dream up. Lobbying is important too like the airports that successfully lobbied to prevent passengers taking drinks with them.

    The more likely approach is be able to be allowed to intercept internet communications for suspects through some kind of state-owned man-in-the-middle for ISPs. While the constitutional court recently banned any form of "online surveillance" because there was no legal basis, all eyes are currently on Northrhine-Westfalia which is pressing ahead with its own law for online surveillance.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mike Richards

    "this is going to be a German product - designed with typical Teutonic precision and thoroughness for the optimal consumer experience."

    Unless made by Mercedes. The the trojan will install, occasionally. Then once installed on the 14th attempt the CD/DVD drive tray will open, then fall off. A light will come on telling you the drive door has fallen off and then you should contact the German goverment (sub contracted to to Merc), who will then replace the HDD and M/B, leaving the drive tray broken. Return it to you at which point the trojan will reactivate and blow the monitor up....

    Allegedly, of course....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And your point is?????

    The new terror laws in the UK allow MI5 and MI6 to do this without advertising.. The only stupid thing the Germans have done is ask for permission!!!

    Anyway, so long as it means maybe one or two nutters get caught before they blow us to bits, who cares?

    I know amanfrommars is just a troll, but I do wonder what qualifications (s)he thinks they have to make statements about what the government is or isn't doing behind the mask of the official secrets act?? Anything anyone says is either purely conjecture and rumour, or treason! Make up your own mind.. Personally I'd rather have the people we voted into power sneaking around behind our backs trying to catch the bad guys, than the bad guys sneaking around our backs trying to stab us in it!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And our points are...

    #1. It won't work against the guilty.

    #2. It will harm the innocent rather than protect them.

    #3. It's criminal.

    #4. It's stupid.

    I mean, the mind-boggling gullibility of anyone who can write, with a straight face...

    "so long as it means maybe one or two nutters get caught before they blow us to bits, who cares"

    .. where are your powers of thinking? What if it doesn't mean anyone gets caught? How does the balance of cost-to-benefit look then?

    Here, I have a new proposal: in order to prevent terrorism, you have to give me your wallet. What? You don't want to hand over your wallet? But surely so long as it means maybe one or two nutters get caught before they blow us to bits, who cares? What's the matter, are you in favour of terrorism or something? If you have nothing to hide, why won't you hand over your wallet?

    Honestly, if you'll accept anything that anyone says just because they *claim* it's "against terrorism", you are a born sucker. You don't give ANYONE a free pass just because they tell you it's for a good reason (which you aren't allowed to know); you have democractic scrutiny, oversight, and accountability. Or else you have nothing, not even a society worth defending.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah! The Wonders of Closed Source

    All those thoughts about random Emails with 419 contents ("Jihadist needs your bank account to move money"), lottery wins or porno pics ("See video of infidels being blown up / beheaded / whatever") are a bit off the mark. For all we know we may have our pre-installed Trojan already. One that's already in most Windows machines is the "Windows Genuine Advantage" thing, but its only the tip of the monitoring iceberg.

    All of these Trojans have one fatal flaw -- they need to communicate with the mothership. Now anyone, Jihadist or ordinary person, who is stupid enough to connect a Windows machine directly to a broadband link deserves what they get (they're about the level of the Glasgow attackers). Most of us will have a firewall, even if its a cheapo router, and if we were concerned about what's going on we will be monitoring the traffic going from our system.

    Legislators aren't very good with computers. That's why they always seem to be trying to ban video games and stuff.

  15. Nick

    Caution Stereotypes Ahead...

    <Stereotype>Vee haf veys ov infectin das PC-Computterplatz</Stereotype>

    Kinda strikes me of desperately pissing into the wind to put out a forest fire.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legislators need security certfications

    NEW RULE - If legislators are going to make laws about security, the internet, or technology they must pass the appropriate cert tests. This way they will know how stupid some of the legislation is that they are trying to push thru.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anarchy now

    Anything that makes the 'net less safe and secure is fantastic in my book, because it's only through quick and vicious natural selection, with a bunch of pointless destructive bullshit interspersed, that systems will harden, people will get smarter, and the infrastructure will improve.

    Bring it on, Germany. Just wait until you see my retaliation.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beware of Germans bearing gifts

    Gott in Himmel what a naff scheme.

  19. J


    "Personally I'd rather have the people we voted into power sneaking around behind our backs trying to catch the bad guys"

    You assuming a little bit too much there, methinks...

  20. Dillon Pyron

    @Dave Murray

    Oh great, Dave. Expect your door to come crashing down in about a week. Assuming you don't get black bagged on the way home from the pub.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. David Sidebotham


    Hang on a minute.

    They did not say they wanted permission to do it but to be able to use the results as evidence. Not the same thing I think you will agree.

    As for Linux, you have a point but are you certain that there is not some spy code lurking amongst the millions of lines of code just waiting to be switched on...

  23. amanfromMars Silver badge

    @ Mike Richards

    BKA? I'm trying to square that circle but have set it on the back burner as it does not compute.

    The cunning plan would work a lot better, verging on the usual teutonic perfection, if IT was going through der Bundesnachrichtendienst for automation ...

    And how would you ever know what MI5 and MI6 were tuned into and turned onto, for if you did, they wouldn't be at all like a Scarlett Pimpernel and Spooky, would they?. Say no more, squire.:-)

    A troll, anonymous? You'll have to phish with a lure a lot deeper than that to discover what the point is. What will happen in the mean time though, is that it will float away to another point in contention....... which is always the fate of those looking for answers rather than simply providing questions which have hidden answers.

    "Personally I'd rather have the people we voted into power sneaking around behind our backs trying to catch the bad guys, than the bad guys sneaking around our backs trying to stab us in it!" They do say that power corrupts so maybe your good guys are really bad guys ..... the people we voted into power sneaking around behind our backs trying to catch the bad guys are also the bad guys sneaking around our backs trying to stab us in it!

    After all, there's not a great deal happening despite all of the resources at their disposal ....except the cheque every month though for services rendered. That is always well taken care of.

    Or would you like to disagree over a disagreement?

    And you might like to Register that the Internet is relatively new and ITs workings have everything to do with Relativity. That would make IT a double whammy of Innovation and/or Despair for everyone who would think IT so or otherwise.

    Novelty would then be the Norm and the Transparent Secret to ITs Success and XSS?

  24. Marco

    Re: Invading Polish PCs first

    Amazing, isn't it, that any mention of Germany will trigger WWII comments from the English. Get over it already.

    And Schaeuble's plan being pure idiocy is a no brainer, but the English certainly are not in a position look down on the idiocy of the German government, while having one that takes surveillance to new levels itself.

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