back to article Skype Trojan wiretap plan leaks onto the net

German cops are pushing ahead with controversial plans, yet to be legally approved, to develop "remote forensic software" - in other words, a law enforcement Trojan. Leaked documents outline proposals by German firm Digitask to develop software to intercept Skype VoIP communications and SSL transmissions. A second leaked …


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  1. Joe

    Just who would they target

    Why does this idea not surprise me ?

    ...and if everyone with a computer is a potential terrorist in the making, then I suppose it's OK to snoop on everyone just in case.....Hey, better safe than sorry - right ?

    ...and I do over use the dots frequently.....

    The icon I picked is the government official going through your pockets


  2. john doe

    the key phrase is

    ...eBay subsidiary. nuff said

  3. Andy Bright
    Thumb Down

    I call bullshit

    Not on the possibility that such software can be produced, but that once again civil rights are being challenged in the name of "serious crime and terrorism".

    99% of warrantless wiretaps are used for anything but, because law enforcement agencies will always abuse powers given in the name of terrorism.

    The infuriating part is those that have a duty to censure the people that break far more serious laws than those committed by the people they're monitoring, do nothing but tell them they've been very naughty.

    The consequences faced by the FBI when found to have illegally used powers given to it by Congress in crimes that were neither serious, nor anything to do with terrorism, were no more than the equivalent of being told to stand in the corner and think about what they did.

    Tell me they didn't just say "we're really sorry" and then go away with every intention of repeating their crimes, and I'll call you stupidly naive.

    It seems the entire so-called democratic west is going through a human rights abuse festival at the moment. With a succession of countries trying to out-do the previous with more and more outrageous laws and activities.

  4. Ed

    White hat malware?

    Oxymoron of the year?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    i love big long german words...


    this long useless word roughly means "phone tap"

  6. NinjaOnTheBeach

    They don't need a trojan - just ask Skype for the keys

    This is just a big cover up lie. The germans don't need to develop such a trojan to listen in on Skype.

    The German government can just ask Skype, a Luxembourg company, for the encryption key and the company will comply with the request just like any other phone company will do and does.

    The real, hidden purpose of the trojan is therefore something probably much worse.

    If all the European governments will develop their own trojan then your PC will be a busy place, maybe the EU can give each EU citizen a Quad Core upgrade ?

  7. Andy Bright

    re: They don't need a trojan - just ask Skype for the keys

    "maybe the EU can give each EU citizen a Quad Core upgrade"

    More to the point, will the spyware vendors be suing each government for using up the resources they need to turn your machine into a spam bot?

  8. Steve
    Black Helicopters

    Quite how he was tracked down remains unclear

    "Quite how he was tracked down remains unclear, beyond the availability of papers on tracking anonymous peer-to-peer VoIP traffic."

    Only speculating, but presumably skype traffic has an identifiable signature.

    So they had someone under surveillance who they thought would contact this guy, his wife or a business partner or some such. They have the ISP monitor the outbound traffic of this person for skype signatures and then take a peak at where the packets are going, the routing information can't be encrypted as the routers it travels over have to know where to send it.

    Having identified the final IP address of the suspect skype call they use a dns lookup to find out what ISP owns it, they get a court order and contact the ISP and hey presto they have an address.

    Of course they can't be sure who's address it is, but a little bit of investigation by the local plod solves that problem and your fugitive is arrested.

    Moral - use a satellite phone if you don't want the government to track you down. Or have your associates walk into internet cafe's if they must skype you.

  9. Spleen


    I'd suggest that it's "phone tap" that's useless. What does tap mean? Some sort of dance on your Nokia? Actually, the word "tap" makes it sound rather harmless. "Telekommunikationsüberwachungsmassnahmen", on the other hand, or "long-distance communications watching-over measures", tells you exactly what it is, and uses the suitably sinister "overwatch" instead of the euphemistic "tap".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About Überwachung...

    It does not mean "overwatch". It means monitoring.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Well They had to work somewhere

    Look Its simple, East Germany Fell, the Stasi boys were all suddenly out of work. Fast forward a couple of decades nearly and we should not be surprised that they found gainful employment in an industry they understand. How surprised can anyone be that this sort of policy is flavour of the month, its all they know after all.

  12. TrishaD

    Wiretap or Trojan?

    I'm a little confused. The article starts with allegations that the issue is the creation of malware but then appears to qualify that by talking only about monitoring VOIP ....

    In theory at least, the ethics of monitoring of VOIP are no different to the ethics of wiretapping in the conventional sense. And most people dont have an issue with that as long as due process (issue of warrants etc) is followed.

    There's an ethical dilema here I think, and one that all the wailing and rending of garments about how civil liberties are being eroded isnt addressing. Erosion of civil liberties is a legitimate concern but it doesnt address the problem of terrorists and criminals using technology to further their ends. The rule of law is not in the end about untrammeled person freedom, its about the degree to which its acceptable to compromise that freedom and the checks and balances that need to be in place to ensure that compromise is a/minimised and b/not misused.

    Accountabilty is the issue. Its interesting that apparently the Information Commissioners Office have threatened Marks and Spencers with criminal charges because a contractor had a laptop with personal information stolen while HMCR get away scott free with a far worse breach of Privacy of Information. Government agencies exceeding their authority or failing in their responsibilities is a fact of life. What should not be a fact of life is that there's bugger all action against them when they do......

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    the point i was trying to make is that "a wiretap listens in on suspicious calls" and the word "Telekommunikationsüberwachungsmassnahmen" has more letters in it than the sentence i just used to describe the word wiretap.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    I prefer to VW Jetta myself.

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