back to article Mystery of Guardian mobos and graphics cards which 'held Snowden files'

The Guardian’s picture of the computers it claims to have smashed in order to placate the British government over the Snowden affair has been called into question over both what it shows - and what it doesn’t. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger yesterday revealed that GCHQ operatives last month paid the paper a visit in order to …

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  1. DavCrav

    This is the equivalent of countries asking if you plan to overthrow the government when you enter them. If the Guardian still has a copy on UK soil, they can then have them up for lying about the destruction, that's all.

    1. JohnG

      "If the Guardian still has a copy on UK soil, they can then have them up for lying about the destruction..."

      The Guardian folk would be in the clear if they don't have copies in the UK on the day they are asked.

      They could have a bit of fun by phoning the men from the ministry to tell them every time they have had more copies in the UK for a week or so.

      1. DavCrav

        "They could have a bit of fun by phoning the men from the ministry to tell them every time they have had more copies in the UK for a week or so."

        I'm guessing part of it would be to sign an undertaking not to do it again...

      2. caffeine addict
        Trollface

        But you can't be to blame if someone mails it to you...

        So, it would be terrible if someone /outside the UK/ was to email a copy of the encrypted files to them. And cc-ed some random email addresses at the same time...

        "Hi, GCHQ? Yes, we've got some copies of that file again. Oh, and would you like to go trash the mail servers at bbc.co.uk. thetimes.co.uk and bobsgerbilemporium.co.uk? I'm sure that will fix the problems..."

    2. Psyx

      "they can then have them up for lying about the destruction, that's all."

      You can't be prosecuted for lying to people with GCHQ IDs who wander into your building. You can tell them whatever the hell you like: It's not a crime, they are not the police.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Psyx

        It's not a crime, they are not the police.

        GCHQ personnel do not do site visits. They send Special Branch to do that kind of dogsbody work.

        Hence, actually, yes it was the police.

        1. Psyx
          Stop

          Re: @Psyx

          "It's not a crime, they are not the police.

          GCHQ personnel do not do site visits. They send Special Branch to do that kind of dogsbody work.

          Hence, actually, yes it was the police."

          <citation required>

          The affected organisation said it was GCHQ, not police. We can only comment on it based on that.

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Some of the GCHQ bods read and comment on el reg, so I'd assume most of them are pretty competent.

      Their bosses on the other hand...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        A sign of competence?

        I shall immediately add "Reads and comments on The Register to my CV. I don't expect it to do me much good, though.

    4. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      "countries asking if you plan to overthrow the government when you enter them."

      No plans. I did so unintentionally.

    5. Keith 21

      "This is the equivalent of countries asking if you plan to overthrow the government when you enter them."

      Sole purpose of visit, dear boy; sole purpose of visit!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        lies / police etc

        Deception as it used to be known, now covered by the Fraud Act 2006 (fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information), is an offence under UK law.

        It does not matter whom is deceived nor the subject of the deception.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Huge flaw in article

    The picture might raise some questions, but honestly, the explanation is utterly obvious.

    You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent. The fact that they're turning up in a physical place to destroy physical things when they're dealing with digital files shows how completely wrong that assumption is.

    What you have here is people turning up with the concept of "find document, shred document, job done". They don't know what these things in the picture are. Is the graphics card a hard disk? Probably! Let's break it. What's this thing? Break it. Right, the files have been destroyed, job done!

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Huge flaw in article

      "What's this thing? Break it. Right, the files have been destroyed, job done!"

      Why not just grab a handful of dusty floppy discs and snap them in front of the 'witnesses'.

      Then take the magnetic bit and kill it with fire.

      Sorted - data destroyed.

      Or -- a new box of continuous paper, print it all out and a bonfire?

      ps. does no-one do back-ups?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huge flaw in article

        "ps. does no-one do back-ups?"

        Yes, they destroyed the photocopier too.

        1. Number6

          Re: Huge flaw in article

          Modern photocopiers often contain hard disks, so it's quite possible that a photocopier might contain sensitive information.

          1. caffn8me

            Re: Huge flaw in article

            "Number6

            Modern photocopiers often contain hard disks, so it's quite possible that a photocopier might contain sensitive information."

            ...and if those photocopiers are Xerox a good deal of that information could be wrong ;)

          2. JeffyPoooh
            Pint

            Re: Huge flaw in article

            Modern photocopiers may also change your "6"s into "8"s under some circumstances.

        2. Eddy Ito

          Re: Huge flaw in article

          "Yes, they destroyed the photocopier too."

          Actually the green motherboard in the pic looks like it did come from the typical multifunction device with a lan or usb port below the mangled metal panel with serial and parallel connectors.

        3. At0micAndy

          Re: Huge flaw in article

          Interestingly photocopiers can be a source of data. They do contain copies of recent copies in various formats, not least of which the fuser assembly and the memory. Try buying a seconhand copier from any 'secure' organisation. Bet you can't

          1. KroSha

            Re: Huge flaw in article

            "not least of which the fuser assembly and the memory"

            I think you meant the formatter. The fuser is usually just a pair of heated rollers to melt the toner in place. Image formation happens earlier in the process and most fusers just have a power connection and motor.

    2. JonP

      Re: Huge flaw in article

      "You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent."

      If you assume they are competent for a second, it could've gone something like this:

      Spook Boss: We've had a request that you supervise the destruction of computing equipment with Snowden's files on it.

      Spook: But isn't that pointless, surely they'd have a backup?

      Spook Boss: Yes, but the request has come from on high.

      Spook: So i'm going to spend the day out of the office destroying computer equipment? Oh well, if i must...

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Huge flaw in article

        "You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent."

        Let's not be too condescending. Remember that these people are from the organisation that pretty much invented the computer*.

        I think JonP has it about right.

        * GCHQ was previously called GCCS, and was based at Bletchley Park.

        1. Salts

          Re: Huge flaw in article

          @Kubla Cant

          No they nearly made sure the computer was not invented one man spent his own money to make it happen

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Flowers

        2. Robin Bradshaw

          Re: Huge flaw in article

          It was Tommy Flowers from the GPO that pretty much invented the computer.

      2. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

        Re: Huge flaw in article

        Actual dialogue:

        "Spook: So i'm going to spend the day out of the office destroying computer equipment? Oh well, if I get to claim expenses..."

      3. John Sanders
        Big Brother

        Re: Huge flaw in article

        Spot on!

      4. Mike Richards

        Re: Huge flaw in article

        I kind of imagine the spooks egging the Guardian on.

        "Yes, yes I know its pointless - nice reporting by the way - but make sure you don't miss a bit; the Home Office thinks the data can go and hide if you don't smash everything.'

      5. Midnight

        Re: Huge flaw in article

        "So, it seems that the Guardian has copies of some classified files. What's the required response from our department?"

        (pulling a binder off a a shelf, blowing dust off of it) "Hmm... According to the regulations we need to ensure that the documents are destroyed along with any mimeographed copies of them, and at least two officers need to oversee the operation."

        "Mimeo-what? How old is that book you're reading?"

        "I can't make out the date but there's a reference to King Edward in the preamble. Anyway, rules are rules and if we don't march down there and start burning mimeographs it'll be our heads."

        *sigh* "If you say so. Shall I head down to the stables and have them ready your coach?"

        "If that's what the regulations say we have to do, then you'd damn well better."

    3. The First Dave
      Pirate

      Re: Huge flaw in article

      The biggest flaw in all this is that there is no independant proof that there was any such visit. The Gaurdian _used_ to be too reputable to even think about making things up, but I'm not so sure these days - after all, we all know that GCHQ would routinely deny that their own grandmothers ever existed, so why not "embellish" a story here and there?

      1. Mike Richards

        Re: Huge flaw in article

        The government has confirmed it sent the heavies to the Guardian.

      2. Scorchio!!

        Re: Huge flaw in article

        "The Gaurdian _used_ to be too reputable to even think about making things up, but I'm not so sure these days[...]"

        Indeed. It is the case that Rusbridger had to climb down from the nine (9) hour claim; Miranda was in the presence of officials for one hour against his will, the other eight (8) are entirely his own fault, it being that he requested that a specific solicitor other than the duty solicitor attend; solicitor was busy, Miranda therefore had to wait.

        It is also the case that (1) Miranda was travelling at Guardian expense and that (2) he was acting as an information courier for his partner, but this was previously denied.

        Finally, given that Miranda was carrying highly classified documents that had been stolen from one of Britain's NATO partners, what the fuck made him fly a route that took him through the UK? Did he think that officials there would a) ignore him, b) say 'Hi there, don't worry about the classified documents or c) offer to carry his bags to make sure that, e.g., no one from Al Qaida/the IRA/any other terrorist organisation to whom these files would be of interest could steal them? Flying via the UK was a most stupid, amateurish act, worthy of a very hard kick up the arse; it was capped by buggering up his choice of solicitor.

        So who is the biggest fool, Rusbridger of the Guardian, Greenwald whose information courier Miranda was, or the information courier himself. As readers may have observed, this is a rhetorical question, because I consider them all to be stupid fools, but Rusbridger is a liar for sure. He has had to recant which detracts from his credibility and that of the Guardian, a loss making paper that represents a few fools, would not survive without the backup of its investments and is thus the instrument of propaganda by, well, by and for whom?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huge flaw in article

      I think the more likely scenario is that the folks from headquarters have what they want and that this is what the Guardniad agreed to publish so prevent any inconveniences occurring.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huge flaw in article

        It's Grauniad, can't you spell?

    5. Cliff

      >>You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent

      >>You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent

      I suspect if you go head to head with GCHQ you'll find out they're perfectly competent, and stand a rather respectable chance of outcompetenting you (and pretty much the rest of us TBH).

      I rather fancy their chances of reading your emails than the other way round, for instance.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: >>You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent

        I rather fancy their chances of reading your emails than the other way round, for instance.

        Hmmm..... arguing that one has the bigger means of being a bully does not speak for competency much.

        1. Tom 35

          Re: >>You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent

          "I rather fancy their chances of reading your emails than the other way round, for instance."

          How do you fancy the odds of them catching an actual terrorist (and not the usual US trick of finding some sucker online that's spouting off about blowing stuff up and giving them a fake bomb and waiting until they push the button).

          1. Psyx

            Re: >>You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent

            "How do you fancy the odds of them catching an actual terrorist"

            Pretty good, considering the number they have caught. And y'know... all that stuff for the last few decades.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: >>You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent

            Dunno about GCHQ but it's fairly clear that MI5 has never in its entire history managed to catch a spy withoug being handed said individual on a plate, with hors d'oeuves

            1. Don Jefe

              You're All Half Right

              But I've drilled a hole in the drive containing this story so no one will ever read it. Suckers!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: >>You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent

        Which is why they smashed they said they were going to smash the hard drive, when in fact they smashed a computer.

        (Watch the 1st episode of the IT Crowd when Renholm is interviewing Jen if you don't get it).

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Meh

        Re: >>You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent

        "I suspect if you go head to head with GCHQ you'll find out they're perfectly competent, "

        ...But I applaud taking every opportunity verbally to emasculate their expensive, unjustified and unmanaged activities, as well as those of the political classes (ie, all of them) who wash their hands of these excesses rather than doing the job of overseeing them as we expect them to be doing.

        If that means assuming GCHQ doughnut smells of wee that's just fine.

        There, fixed.

      4. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: >>You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent

        So long as they pay them £23k a year, I suspect not

    6. Tom 35

      Re: Huge flaw in article

      If they showed up here I'd pull out my box of broken stuff that's going to be recycled as soon as I have enough to be worth the effort and hand that to them... It's all here. Let me smash it up for you... There are even two hard drives in the bin right now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huge flaw in article @Tom 35

        "If they showed up here I'd pull out my box of broken stuff that's going to be recycled as soon as I have enough to be worth the effort and hand that to them... It's all here. Let me smash it up for you... There are even two hard drives in the bin right now."

        Yeah, right.

    7. Steve Knox

      Even huger flaw in the article

      You're assuming the people from the Guardian are telling the truth, and not just trying to add more spook factor to a story that's getting a little stale in the minds of the general public.

      1. Scorchio!!
        Thumb Up

        Re: Even huger flaw in the article

        "You're assuming the people from the Guardian are telling the truth, and not just trying to add more spook factor to a story that's getting a little stale in the minds of the general public."

        It is certainly the case that Rusbridger has had to recant substantial parts of his story.

    8. Psyx
      Stop

      Re: Huge flaw in article

      "You're assuming the people from GCHQ are in some way competent. The fact that they're turning up in a physical place to destroy physical things when they're dealing with digital files shows how completely wrong that assumption is."

      No it's not. The people who were sent might have been - and undoubtedly WERE, considering that trashing sensitive hardware is a routine chore in their line of work - completely competent. It's just the person who sent them probably wasn't. The boots on the ground were probably just on a bit of a per diem jolly into London and sniggering at the stupidity of it themselves.

  3. rhidian

    ok....

    Time to brush up on the old party line ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pslgz9o8meM

  4. Shasta McNasty

    Or Possibly...

    The GCHQ bods did indeed witness the destruction of said hardware and disk drives, but come the time when the Guardian wanted a photo of the deceased, the parts had already been binned or sold on eBay by the IT guy. Then the editor rocks up and asks for a photo of the parts. The IT guy panics, picks up some spare bits and bobs from around his desk, mangles them to bits and hopes that no-one notices the photo of completely random spares.

    1. Annihilator Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Or Possibly...

      " the parts had already been binned or sold on eBay by the IT guy"

      Described as "slightly used"

      1. Mtech25
        Thumb Up

        Re: Or Possibly...

        Personally I wouldn't be suprised if some person sold these on ebay and made a mint due to the story attached to them....

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. unitron
      Coat

      Re: Or Possibly...

      There's an absolutely classic, epic even, episode of BOFH in that scenario somewhere.

      I do hope Simon's being taking copious notes as this incident has played out.

      Mine's the one with the Guardian's original purchase price invoices to be forwarded to GCHQ for re-imbursement in the pocket.

  5. John Deeb

    Procedures

    Sounds to me like a rather dumbed down form of following procedures. Just like the article I'm too lazy to find the relevant manual but a bit of searching already gives in comparable manuals: "Volatile memory should not be considered erased until 24 hours without power has passed".

    So no mystery there really. My guess for the random arrangement is that the Guardian knew it was coming and just selected some old computers to be the "ones" holding the "data". Since it was all symbolic, they're not going to point to their server park as the location or their cloud solution. Procedures demanded destruction of "something" and something was provided to destroy.

    Silly, indeed.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Procedures

      "Volatile memory should not be considered erased until 24 hours without power has passed".

      Clearly the procedures have not been updated since core memory was phased out.

      You may note that there still is this "multiple pass secure hard disk erasure" from FIPS something that is making the rounds, and which is not only outdated but based on myth too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Headmaster

        Re: Procedures

        The real problem with HDDs is over provisioning and possible changes to drive layout (format etc). So while some may be certain, certain hardware may have quirks, or certain instances might allow slips. So for really crucial data, shred the drive (non-software), for Itunes libraries shred the data (software).

        But I'm no pro.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          TechnicalBen: "I'm no pro"

          Glad you admit it.

          1. Danny 14

            Re: TechnicalBen: "I'm no pro"

            a good strength degausser will get rid of data very efficiently - providing it is used properly.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So pointless

    This was a pointless incident!

    Try this for example...

    Goons turn up at Gruniad office and explain what they are wanting. Staffer in the know points out the computers containing the file to the goons, and proposes that they let one goon guard the computers (which are left turned on, but locked - as would be normal when leaving a computer for a short while) while the rest go to a meeting room so that a senior guy can discuss with them what they want done and what level of destruction they would accept.

    While most are in the meeting for 15 minutes or so, an IT member with admin rights remotely accesses the computers and duplicates the files.

    Then follows many minutes of merry (but pointless) computer destruction.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So pointless

      With files like that, having a disappeared backup (steganography or similar, stored off-site) would shirly be the very first thing you did. Stuff the data into an extremely boring webcast and store it on YouTube or something similar.

  7. Len
    WTF?

    Symbolism

    Isn't it obvious? It is clearly symbolism on both sides.

    The spooks know all too well that they would have had backups so it is a case of intimidation and nothing else. They smash something up to symbolise data destruction.

    The Guardian just chose a few remaining pieces to symbolise the smashed up machines. Is it relevant whether all the pieces are there, exactly which pieces are shown and which aren't? Of course not. Sure, some geek will say that some part is obviously the THX1137.34 and not, as reported, a THX 1138.32 but that is not important to anyone else or for the overall story.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Symbolism

      On the Today programme this morning, Malcolm Rifkind suggested that El Graun might be bluffing about backups so that destroying these machines might well have destroyed the data.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Symbolism

        "On the Today programme this morning, Malcolm Rifkind suggested that El Graun might be bluffing about backups so that destroying these machines might well have destroyed the data."

        The reporting is being done from Brazil/Guardian New York office.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Symbolism @keithpater

          I wasn't very clear. The icon I used (and use again) was what I thought of Rifkind. But I thought it provided insight into the mind of the people at the top and deserved wider comment.

          Maybe it makes sense when you're dealing with a clueless, lone whisteblower. ("Waa! You've caught me! But I've got a copy in New York." "Yeah, sure you have mate.") It was never credible with the Guardian.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Symbolism

        Yeah possibly the copy destroyed was the only existing one because, you know, Snowden sent his copy to the Guardian and then called GCHQ to come and smash his computers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Symbolism

      Completely agree, this was done on request from Whitehall probably. The spooks boss probably opened his door and said to his open plan office, "who wants a half hour jolly out of the office and on the way back pick up some cakes".

      Said pantomime ensues and probably about 45mins later an office in spook central are all munching on some cakes with a cuppa.

      The same happens to the police, I know of an incident where the police had to arrest someone, the arresting copper thought it was a joke and complete waste of time, but seeing as the arrest warrant came from the courts he couldn't do much about other then carry out the warrant. The arrest was for non-payment of a littering fine (drop a cig butt on the street, £40).

    3. Paul Shirley

      Re: Symbolism

      The spooks are also allowed to think their orders are idiotic and conterproductive. They might not be able to tell the idiots ordering stupidity that with any effect, can't refuse to obey, but don't have to go beyond symbolism or make any attempt to make an action look less cretinous. After all, their names won't go public.

      And unlike the police, they're usually smart enough to know when what they're doing makes no sense.

      So yes, theatre. Perhaps not the theatre the politicians wanted though.

    4. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      Re: Symbolism

      How did that data get to the Guardian in the first place? So where's the trail of smashed e-mail servers and backups in data centers between Snowden and the UK?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Symbolism

        Do you really want to flatten Berlin AGAIN?

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge

    I'm can't quite reconcile gorillas going round threatening people and high technology which can hoover up internet traffic and replay later it for closer inspection and storing belonging to the same organisation. Perhaps the reports of their capabilities are exaggerated? Maybe they've gone for the vacuum cleaner approach but most of it ends up thrown out. I can't see them doing much with anything which is P2P or similar.

    The other thing is the U.S. spokesdrone reacting with distaste over what happened in The Grauniad's offices. We all know they love 3rd world countries which are so eager to please doing their dirty work for them, sad to see the UK has been reduced to this.

    1. John G Imrie

      I'm can't quite reconcile gorillas going round threatening people and high technology which can hoover up internet traffic and replay later it for closer inspection and storing belonging to the same organisation.

      This is possibly because they don't.

      In the original article they where described as 'Whitehall types' that turned up at the Guardian. Now it has been reviled that our glorious leader sent the head of the Home Civil Service around. I've not heard that any GCHQ Spooks where present.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        There's a quote which indicates they were...

        "The Guardian agreed to destroy two hard drives last month in the presence of two security experts from Britain's GCHQ"

        http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/21/nsa-nick-clegg-guardian-leaked-files

  9. Vociferous

    I'm actually surprised....

    ....that the "destroyed PC" isn't a smashed flat screen monitor, I'm pretty sure that's what would have been the result if some "senior members of staff" at my job were tasked with destroying their computer.

    An interesting question is why Guardian staff carried out the destruction rather than the spooks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm actually surprised....

      I must admit, your interesting question occurred to me as well. If someone did that to me; I'd make damn sure that it was the bullies sweating through their suits. Maybe that was part of the 'lesson' though...establishing just who the bitch is in that relationship. An alternative theory is that the IT guys handled it so they could select convincing-looking but otherwise useless kit for destruction. Or both sides knew it was theatre so it just looked marginally more intimidating if you could get the 'perps' to destroy their own stuff.

      1. Ally 1

        Re: I'm actually surprised....

        Pure unadulterated fun I suppose. If someone said to me, take this angle grinder and those big tools and smash up that shiny Apple hardware..I'd be fighting the gorillas off until there wasn't anything bigger than a flat matchstick left. Stuff letting them have all the fun

  10. jai

    insurance scam

    GCHQ demand data is destroyed, so at the same time, destroy several other old machines that were due for replacement, make the evidence of such very public in the newspaper, then claim the insurance on them to get free new models.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: insurance scam

      Right. Call the PFY, the work's sorted for today. We are heading for the pub.

  11. Piro Silver badge

    This is just silly

    An excuse for new PCs?

    If they can seriously recover data from RAM that has no power, please let us all know, we've been wasting all this time with solid state storage and hard drives, when we could have used RAM as a non-volatile storage with no power!

    How pathetic..

    1. Mtech25
      Boffin

      Re: This is just silly

      I have heard it is possible for data to be recovered from RAM via a cold boot attack depending on the memory used and the timeframe since the last shutdown (apparently certain types of memory when cooled can hold the data for up to an hour) but in this context I can see your piont.

    2. Uffish

      Re: This is just silly

      Homeopathic data?

  12. Evil Auditor

    Hard drives' remains

    Obviously, the hard drives were angle ground to dust.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There ARE some very clever hardware and software experts at GCHQ. (I'm ex-BT and had some slight dealings with them.) Whether those are the kinds of people you'd send to the Guardian to oversee destruction of hardware is another question.

    Come to think of it, if I was a GCHQ manager, I wouldn't let any of my innocent nerds out of my sight, never mind into a building full of sneaky jounalists. I'd send guys who look after physical security, probably former policemen with shiny boots and narrowed eyes.

    1. JohnG

      "I'd send guys who look after physical security, probably former policemen with shiny boots and narrowed eyes."

      The snag is, it is probably trivial to fool these guys into chopping up any obsolete kit that the Guardian IT blokes could dig out of a cupboard. It seems likely that the Guardian would have established procedures to cope with a visit from the authorities once they got involved with Wikileaks.

  14. David Lawrence

    Clever or stupid?

    Clever?......

    Someone is pulling the wool over someone's eyes here. I just can't tell who is the wool-puller and who now has obscured vision. Unfortunately I fear we will never actually find out and thus we may well end up being the only ones with an unclear view of things!

    Stupid?......

    IT 'experts' grinding chips off mobos and graphics cards in front of security 'experts'? Futile, pointless, wasteful and totally unnecessary as anyone with a tiny amount of IT knowledge can tell you such things cannot possibly hold any data once the power is cut.

    One can only ponder over which this was.

    1. Parax

      Re: Clever or stupid?

      "such things cannot possibly hold any data"

      Do you think they checked each and every chip was what it said it was?

      Or perhaps they grind anything and everything that could be swapped with a flash chip of one sort or another.

      1. John Sager

        Re: Clever or stupid?

        There are written down procedures for destroying classified stuff, which is presumably what the Govt would treat it as. Those are effectively written on Tablets of Stone with the Blood of Sacrificed Virgins, so have to be observed TO THE LETTER, however stupid this is in a particular case.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Clever or stupid?

          There are also long and involved procedures for disposing of partially detonated, degraded or suspect explosives.

          Yet every airport in the world confiscates millions of suspect explosives from passengers and throw them into a big plastic bin.

      2. Dave K
        Facepalm

        Re: Clever or stupid?

        Yeah, newspapers are sods for having customised motherboards with secret flash chips swapped in place of the southbridge. And that cleverly modified and customised graphics card with a flash chip in place of the GPU, clearly a giveaway.

        Yep, that's far more likely than them bunging a backup copy onto a flash drive and sticking it into the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet...

        1. Parax
          Facepalm

          Re: Clever or stupid?

          silly me, of course I forgot the government has different procedures for every type of industry. Yeah they leave the chips on for my industry sector cos its clear I'd have never have thought of that.. oh hang on I did.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Clever or stupid?

          Or if you want to be a smartarse, UNDER the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet

  15. Lee D

    You can blame education. I work in schools and have seen taught-as-fact and even printed on posters from educational suppliers that, quite clearly, the desktop case is the "hard drive" that stores all your data. And inside that is the RAM and the CPU.

    Honestly, there were posters distributed to schools from educational suppliers that do this (and not even hiding behind the "well, the arrow points to the box because the hard drive is in the box" kind of excuse, but blatantly pointing out the desktop casing as "the hard drive".

    But, to be honest, the fact that GCHQ even turned up, and that people knew they were GCHQ and were able to tell the world that the GCHQ turned up - it means they aren't doing their job any more. I would argue that they haven't been doing it for decades now. These are the people who had to ask the Americans to put what basically amount to Ethereal boxes into ISP's that suck in all traffic they are interested in. Real stealthy, cutting-edge, secret techniques there. Top-end spying. Not people pissing about out of their depth and capabilities at all... And didn't they have a bit of a political campaign for "more funding" because they couldn't break Skype encryption?

    God knows what we pay them for nowadays. Turing would be turning in his grave. But only when he was in the right state and passed over a binary 0, of course.

    1. harmjschoonhoven
      Headmaster

      Re: Turing turning in his grave

      @Lee D

      Alan Turing was cremated at Woking Crematorium on 12 June 1954. Turing's ashes were scattered there. Otherwise Turing has plenty of reasons to turn in his grave

  16. graeme leggett

    "Given the vigour with which “a senior editor and a Guardian computer expert” clearly applied themselves to the destruction of the devices "

    I've had kit that's been a bugger to get into too.....

    I've a theory that these are indeed pictures of some random bits used to "illustrate the story" and knowing newspapers these days, lifted off the internet. I suspect that when they flipped the computer over to dismantle it, they found they didn't have the right screwdriver set and instead cut the thing open with the grinder before pushing the resulting chunks through the office shredder. (that's one advantage of a superslim Mac they don't mention in the brochure)

  17. Parax

    Not beyond imagination to remove a memory chip and glue on a flash chip in its place... And who would really notice? yeah it might not work, but a cursory look over would likely miss it. You could be even cleverer if you bought a low end card with unused blank spaces to hide your flash chips.. then it would work correctly as well.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Headmaster

      1) Take 0.8 cm drill

      2) Drill hole into plaster wall

      3) Put 32 GiB flash memory with data in there, safely encased in a bit of tinfoil and epoxy

      4) Plaster over

      5) ???

      6) Yes, m'ylod we no longer have no files

      1. Danny 14

        register webspace using PAYG holiday debit card. Use TOR to update the website with "I LURVE CATS" etc. Use TOR to hide your encrypted files there.

        repeat on a few websites in different countries just to be sure.

  18. CAPS LOCK

    Dear Dave, you are making a laughing stock of yourself and your party.

    The Great Firewall of Britain, now this. I though you were some kind of P. R. guru. Obviously not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dear Dave, you are making a laughing stock of yourself and your party.

      If competency was a crime

      There would be no criminals in the cabinet

  19. SW

    PPE

    I trust that the appropriate level of Personal Protective Equipment was donned by those in the room at the time of this destruction.

    Can just imagine a belted and braced Health and Safety Executive of the Grauniad insisting on it.

    1. JohnG

      Re: PPE

      I hope that the Guardian sent their Safety Officer to check not only the PPE but that everyone had the correct certifications (a relevant ECS card?) for the actions they were performing (materials handling, power tools), that the room had adequate ventilation and that any hazardous materials were correctly recycled.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: PPE

        it's OK, call me dave has a ppe, he got it from oxford.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the 'wrong' hands...

    So, let me get this straight.

    A (presumably) encrypted laptop, in a 2 ton firesafe, at a secure (albeit not List X) site, is the 'wrong' hands.

    But a rented server in Brazil? is ok...

    UK security at its best!

  21. corestore

    Unlike 99% of you, I've actually been inside GCHQ and destroyed hard drives.

    Trust me, those guys are clinically paranoid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      really?

      So, you think using a belt-sander on each side of each platter is enough?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the security guy checked how we were disposing of our old hard drives he was very happy. However, one pearl of wisdom crossed his lips which told me exactly what level he was at, 'Make sure you destroy the motherboards, there is a cache on there.'

    I managed to keep a straight face whilst ROFL on the inside.

    1. Mephistro

      @AC 21st August 2013 11:48 GMT)

      'Make sure you destroy the motherboards, there is a cache on there.'

      Actually there are MoBos out there that include flash memory to be used as a cache. Granted that it's usually newer machines, and that it takes a newish OS, like Windows 7, to use that trick. *

      The other hypothesis is that GHCQ feared that the machines had been already bugged before by some privately or state sponsored entity. It makes sense, because knowing beforehand what a big newspaper is going to publish could bag some incumbents hugenormous amounts of cash and/or political power.

      *Note: If your MoBo doesn't include that hardware, you can still connect a pendrive to a standard USB port and get the same functionality.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: @AC 21st August 2013 11:48 GMT)

        Actually there are MoBos out there that include flash memory to be used as a cache. Granted that it's usually newer machines, and that it takes a newish OS, like Windows 7, to use that trick."

        There have been MoBos with dual BIOS flash areas for many years. IIRC, an old Gigabyte MpBo I had at least 10 years ago had two copies of the BIOS in case an update went bad. Now, that's not specifically "flash" RAM, nor is it intended as a cache, but 1MB or more of EEPROM chippery could quite easily be used as a secret stash. Uncompressed, an A4 page of plaintext is about 4KB. so even 10 years ago a 1MB BIOS "spare" could conceivably hold something in the order of 1000 pages of compressed text.

        1. Mephistro

          (Re: @AC 21st August 2013 11:48 GMT)(@ John Brown)

          True that, but I consider that possibility included in my second paragraph, i.e. the machines having been previously compromised.

        2. Paul Shirley

          Re: @AC 21st August 2013 11:48 GMT)

          I'm pretty sure I could squeeze in an encryption key into the BIOS flash on my graphics card without too much trouble, already have tools able to edit it. Perhaps a key good for 400Gb of assorted data...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that really the PGP key for an El Reg email address? - looks like the key for someone's private email address to me.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      It is mine. My username at diodesign.co.uk or cwilliams@theregister.co.uk.

      C.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Colour me old fashioned, but...

    And please note that I'm not suggesting who may be right or wrong, and I may be missing something obvious here, but... surely a search warrant issued by a court, at the very least, is required before anyone, be it HMG, a private citizen, or someone from the outer reaches of Gol, tools up and says "gimme all your computer data" or similar? I seem to recall from my time in a certain profession that failure to do so could lead to charges of, at the very minimum, theft?

    1. streaky
      Boffin

      Re: Colour me old fashioned, but...

      It's the thing I've been talking about on my twitter all day - prior restraint. Guardian probably assumed they would in the end and it would end up in the control of judges to potentially do who knows what and so did it anyways.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Colour me old fashioned, but...

      And in your world a bobby still tells people the time, crimes are solved by little old ladies and the government doesn't kidnap political opponents fly them to secret prisons and torture them

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Colour me old fashioned, but...

      what you're describing is exactly the same tactics carried out by a previous elected government, that ignored and/or creatively reinterpreted and/or re-wrote the laws so that they could intimidate and silence journalist, news papers and upstanding citizens that had the gall to disagreed with them.

      If anybody can point out a difference between theresa may's behaviour in this and related matters and that of Wilhelm Frick between '33 and '38, please feel free to point it out, as I certainly can't see it

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Colour me old fashioned, but...

        PS

        Wilhelm Frick was tried and executed at Nuremberg for the actions he took between 1933 and 1935 as the interior minister of an elected government (i.e. May's current job in the UK)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Colour me old fashioned, but... ('33 to '38)

        Um, a thumbs down but no comment as to why they disagree with the post.

        Looks like Dave's got the Lynton Crosby astro-turfing team running already!

        That, or we genuinely have people who want to live in a police state, where you can be siezed off the street and held without access to legal representation, and the state can steal and/or destroy your property on a whim, with no lawful basis for their actions

        1. streaky
          Megaphone

          Re: Colour me old fashioned, but... ('33 to '38)

          Wasn't me but comparing May to Nazi ministers is somewhat pushing it.

          Also not for nothing but police and government can interpret laws however the hell they like - doesn't mean the upper courts (or even the lower ones) will agree with them. Look at how the Tory immigration rules (minimum earnings for bringing you spouse over etc) were smashed to pieces by the High Court recently.

  25. streaky

    Option 3...

    That the Guardian and all their staff are totally IT clueless because they outsourced everything to India. I'm sure the GCHQ guys thought it was hilarious though.

    Not for nothing but if you could read data off unpowered RAM chips etc it would take about 30 seconds to prove.

  26. Justin Stringfellow

    In other news..

    Whitehall are said to be funding a hydraulic gate slamming mechanism which will be fitted to all stable doors for activation in the case of any horses bolting.

  27. JimC
    Black Helicopters

    Option 4

    The spooks were actually there doing something completely different. While the Guardianistas were smugly laughing at the stupid GCHQ people, said folk were ... bzzz, crackle

    .. No carrier....!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    None of this makes any sense

    For example, how would the spooks even know which laptops the data resided on? Surely, to be safe, they would need to destroy ALL forms of storage within the offices at the Guardian?

    1. defiler

      Re: None of this makes any sense

      Take off and nuke the site from orbit.

    2. Jason Bloomberg
      Black Helicopters

      Re: None of this makes any sense

      It probably does make sense and it's probably the simplest explanation which makes most sense; we make you smash your things up because we can. Be very afraid. And, from the Guardian's side; sure, we'll play along with that.

      It's a face-off. Trying to make any more sense out of, particularly debating how it could or should have been done better on both sides, is likely missing the point entirely.

      Having said that; my gut feeling is that it's the Guardian taking the lead. I'm not entirely convinced the events did happen as described. Why casually drop such an important revelation in the midst of an editorial commentary when one would expect front page banner headlines? Plenty of outrage over Miranda's detention but little on their computers getting totalled. C'est la vie? There has to be a reason for that even if we don't know what it is.

      It does throws down a gauntlet for the spooks and government to deny the claim and perhaps the Guardian are hoping for that to provide the circumstances to let fly with whatever revelation they want to make.

      Speculating and creating conspiracy theories is fun but I don't think there's much to be gained beyond grabbing the popcorn and watching how it plays out. Only the protagonists know the game plan.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: None of this makes any sense

        "Why casually drop such an

        important revelation in the midst of an

        editorial commentary when one would expect

        front page banner headlines?"

        understatement dear boy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Capitalisation

          I think it would be useful for you to be informed that possibly many people do not bother to read posts from individuals who demonstrate they fail at even a basic level of self-awareness by not writing their own name with capital letters.

          The judgement made is that any opinion and/or statement emitted by such individuals is likely to be of very little value, if indeed it is intelligible at all.

          Instead those posts simply receive an automatic downvote, not wasting my time any further and allowing me to move on swiftly.

          Your strangely haiku-esque post shows conveniently, along with other abundant evidence, why this is so important amongst the sea of interminable drivel that is el Reg forums.

          Just thought I would give you and your equally backward peers the courtesy of explaining this.

  29. a cynic writes...

    Secure destruction of hard drives

    So instead of prosecuting them under section 6 of the Official Secrets Act 1989 (up to 2 years inside plus fine) they gave an official direction for its return or disposal (under section 8) - which had they ignored it would have earned them up to 3 months.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Secure destruction of hard drives

      Official UK Secrets from a US three-letter agency communicated by a (possibly ex) US citizen?

      How bizarre.

  30. Dr Wadd

    According to The Guardian they were given the choice of handing over the data or destroying it, and chose to go the destruction route. If, as the authorities claim, this was in the pursuit of stopping the data spreading then destruction could have been provided as the only choice.

    It makes me wonder whether the UK spooks want to get their hands on this data not because they want to keep it secret, but because it contains information about foreign powers they want to get their hands on. I'm sure the US isn't entirely transparent with the UK with regard to its intelligence operations, there's a good chance that GCHQ saw this as a potentially easy route to grab some intelligence on their colleagues overseas, only for that to go SNAFU when The Guardian chose the destruction option.

  31. Eradicate all BB entrants

    The Guardian had a chance to ....

    ..... be 100% in the right on the Snowden debacle but the continuous lies about the Miranda issue recently they have lost that. Stating he was refused a lawyer, he wasn't, he refused the lawyer. Stating he does not work for the Guardian yet paying for his flights and expenses as a mule.

    The second I saw the picture above and the initial statement I called bullshit, and now it's a number of pc's that just proves me right. I know most of you love to mock the Daily Mail and its exaggerating, but the Guardian with this are no different.

    1. frank ly

      Re: The Guardian had a chance to ....

      "Stating he was refused a lawyer, he wasn't, he refused the lawyer."

      According to an article in The Independent today, his solicitor says that he went to see him and was prevented from going to the room where he was being held, until the final hour of his captivity. So, two versions here - your version and the version of the solicitor who actually went to see him. Who do you think I believe? The article also says that it was never explained to him who was actually interrogating him and that he wasn't allowed to take any notes during his interrogation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Guardian had a chance to ....

        Make that 3 versions:

        1. The original Graun one which said he was refused a solicitor full stop.

        2. The revised Graun one which said he was offered a solicitor, chose his own, and said beak didn't arrive until an hour before he was released.

        3. Miranda's own solicitor says he got there before the 8 hours, but was kept away from his client.

        Since I don't believe journos, solicitors OR the OB when each one has a real vested interest in how the story plays, I call bullshit on all the accounts.

      2. Psyx
        Thumb Up

        Re: The Guardian had a chance to ....

        I'm going to believe the solicitor who'd probably be disbarred if he lied about it.

        Thanks for the additional information. :)

    2. Psyx
      Stop

      Re: The Guardian had a chance to ....

      "the Guardian with this are no different."

      No: The Guardian are manipulating facts to increase public awareness and debate on the subject of personal privacy.

      The Mail do it to promote xenophobia, racism and to distract the lower middle classes from the fact that the upper middle classes are really the ones ripping them off, rather than poor people.

      1. Eradicate all BB entrants

        Re: The Guardian had a chance to ....

        Psyx, do some checking, the original story was submitted by Greenwald, the journo at the heart of this who also stated he will make Britain sorry as he releases documents in revenge for the detention.

        So its perfectly fine for him to manipulate facts? How can we have a concise debate on anything if the underlying facts have been manipulated? How can they be facts when there is so much personal bias in the story?

        Also ask the Jewish community in the UK about the promotion of xenophobia and racism, you will find they mention the Guardian a lot more than the Daily Mail.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: The Guardian had a chance to ....

          Also ask the Jewish community in the UK about the promotion of xenophobia and racism, you will find they mention the Guardian a lot more than the Daily Mail.

          Ohhh.... I feel we are getting in "Criticism of MUH ISRAEL" territory here. Scary.

          Well, I'm following Robert Fisk on that subject. He's with the Indy, generally.

        2. little
          Trollface

          Re: The Guardian had a chance to ....

          you are missing a troll icon

        3. Psyx

          Re: The Guardian had a chance to ....

          "Psyx, do some checking, the original story was submitted by Greenwald, the journo at the heart of this who also stated he will make Britain sorry as he releases documents in revenge for the detention."

          That doesn't mean that he can make up quotes, though. That's still considered very much not cricket in journalism. And if a solicitor is quoted as saying he was not allowed access, then you can bet it will be raised on a formal level and he'll be required to make a sworn statement with his job on the line.

          "So its perfectly fine for him to manipulate facts? How can we have a concise debate on anything if the underlying facts have been manipulated? How can they be facts when there is so much personal bias in the story?"

          On the other hand, you can't throw it all out based on the fact that you believe he is biased. We can be cynical, but traditionally journalists don't totally make stuff up, because then they soon lose all journalistic integrity and become a liability and lawyer magnet for their employer.

          "Also ask the Jewish community in the UK about the promotion of xenophobia and racism, you will find they mention the Guardian a lot more than the Daily Mail."

          Anyone who genuinely believes that the Guardian is more racist than the Mail is..well: wrong.

          The Guardian is critical of Israel, but I've never seen them having a direct go at the Jewish faith. However, critisism of Israel is labelled as anti-Semitic on a regular basis in the war of words that surrounds the politics of the nation.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When were the computers destroyed?

    The picture available at the Guardian website here: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/2013/aug/21/nsa-files-david-miranda-detention-latest-news

    contains EXIF data indicating the image was taken on 20/08/2013 at 17:04.

  33. Paladin

    Oh, puleeese make this a BOFH storyline!!! :-)

    C'mon Simon, It has everything apart from a lift shaft.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope they complied with WEEE regulations

    Everyine else does. :)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Memory Imprinting

    The problem is that the GCHQ guys/gals know a lot more than most people about inadvertent data retention. Thus, "erasing the devices with an axe" really does make quite a bit of sense. For example, certain memory chip technologies (SRAM, DRAM?) suffer from an effect called "memory imprinting", where the contents of the memory chip will retain data, even after the power has been removed for a period of time. Secure processing requires that any memory used for containing sensitive information (e.g., cryptographic keys, etc.) be periodically inverted such that memory imprinting is minimized.

    http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1304309

    There is also some speculation that flash memory chips may retain residual data, contained in charges trapped in the oxide layer, even after the erasure of the memory. Now, while it would be exceedingly difficult to extract this information, doing so isn't beyond the realm of possibility.

    Similarly, disk drives are notorious for leaving residual magnetic data between the tracks, even after the device has been erased. Doing multiple erasures, with alternating patters, may or may not erase all of the residual information. Erasing the device with an axe, a few pounds of Thermite, and/or an Acetylene torch pretty well does remove all of the residual data.

    Anonymous (since I work on products which uses some of these!)

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Memory Imprinting

      > doing so isn't beyond the realm of possibility.

      It certainly is beyond the realm of the Guardian's BOFH.

      This "realm of possibility" are well-equipped university labs writing papers on how it is in the realm of possibility to do XY in a laboratory setting, may I recall.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "well-equipped ... labs"

        Intelligence agencies may also have well-equipped labs.

  36. shub-internet

    They've got form....

    Perhaps Adam Curtis's words are useful to consider....

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/BUGGER

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slight OT

    but in keeping with the Alice in Wonderland nature of the event ....

    How does this square with the Guardians WEEE obligations ?

  38. Lamont Cranston

    I can't speak for the Guardian, or GCHQ,

    but I routinely store my laptop in a liquid nitrogen bath, to avoid data loss, so this all seems perfectly cromulent to me.

  39. Pondboy

    Look on the bright side...

    ...That's 2 less Macbooks in the world!

  40. Florida1920
    Big Brother

    Disk failure

    The idea wasn't to destroy data. The idea was to convey the message: "We can enter your premises at any time and destroy whatever we like. Or force you to destroy your kit while we watch."

    This episode was relatively low key, and you may well laugh about it. But it's a first step on the road to a Very Bad Place.

  41. Jerky Jerk face

    Well if that shoddy work constitutes a days wage then im going to hand my CV to the GCHQ - for a life of easy peasy non-work work :D

  42. Matt Bradley

    Symbolism

    My guess was that the "security specialists" knew this was a pointless exercise, but nonetheless one which they had been ordered to perform. As such they probably didn't particularly care which computers were destroyed, or whether they actually had copies of the data on, provided they could go back to base and say that they had witnessed the destruction of some computers and had directed their destruction in accordance with department guidelines/best practice.

    1. Psyx
      Thumb Up

      Re: Symbolism

      ...And weren't going to miss the last train home.

  43. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Hmm

    I don't see the remains of a USB flash drive. Or the cloud backup for that matter.

    Note to self: Keep some defunct PC parts handy so when the security services come knocking, I can present them with suitable looking debris worked over with a hammer.

    I have this old toaster sitting around ....

  44. Frankee Llonnygog

    On the bright side

    The plot for the next series of the IT Crowd has just written itself

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    violated

    On the one hand Snowden says they have access to all social media then Miranda (according to the BBC) says he felt violated at having to give them his passwords for social media.

    I'm confused now, what does the "media" want me to think? That the original story was all lies and that they don't have access as indirectly this has come from the Guardian

    On a side note it's nice to see my computer now knows my exact location, I remember the days when it could only pick you up from where you hit the net at your isp.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. files

    Yeah, the lack of SSD destruction is a bit suspicious.

    I'd have copied all the data onto SD cards and hidden it under the tiles in the rest room, waited until the coast was clear and retrieved them.

    Also relevant, the data on the Macbook Air is stored on a miniPCIe card IIRC, this can be removed easily and simply replaced with a convincing-but-not-working card from an old netbook.

    Its not like anyone booted up the MBA to see if it still worked before smashing it.

  47. chris 17 Silver badge

    Maybe the destroyed components where necessary to unencrypt the encrypted data held on backups?

    Is any of this linked with the google outage the other night and also the tragic death of the young spook found locked in a bag that he apparently locked himself?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    extrajudicial acts by the government

    if there was a legal leg to stand on, the government and it's agencies would have been down the court getting the judge to sign warants and injunctions.

    This is a pure extrajudicial operation, and people should be going to prison for it, starting with the ministers that authorised this assult on people and their private property.

  49. regnik

    Where did they find an angle grinder in a newspaper office?

  50. Purlieu

    Unpowered RAM data

    How do you get it out without, umm, applying power

  51. Volker Hett

    How do you torture a BOFH?

    Make him destroy his own kit!

  52. BorkedAgain

    Missed opportunity...

    Wouldn't it have been fun to tell the spooks that the data had spent some time backed up on your S3 / Google Drive / MSN account (or all three) and then watch them happily skip away to do some real damage to a distributed datacentre somewhere?

    Or wouldn't that work?

  53. zooooooom

    Disposal

    Was this WEEE compliant?

  54. Furbian
    Go

    Graphics card firmware...

    You could stick about 128K or more of data in there.. maybe that's why they trashed the graphics card.

    Yes I'm being sarcastic, just in case some Daily Fail reader thought that 128K or so is enough to stick anything worthwhile on, or that the Guardian tech staff would be clever enough to use a graphic card's firmware area in that way. Rest of it just looks like pure mindless vandalism. Oh no, hold that thought, the motherboard's BIOS could also be flash with 'stuff' though getting the data out if it's a surface mount BIOS (most are) could be one heck of a challenge.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those are Retina Macbook Pro Logic Boards

    I'm surprised no one else has identified the Apple boards are from 15" Macbook Pro with Retina Display machines. The cable coming out of one end is the giveaway.

  56. John 62
    Black Helicopters

    Why fake the pictures?

    BECUASE THE BAD GUYZ CAN READ THE DATAS FROM EVEN A F0TO 0F A HARD DRIVE!!!1!!

    wake up sheeple!

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