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police computer seizures - an alert to activists

rikki | 02.05.2011 00:56 | Repression | Technology

speaking recently to several people caught up in the pre-wedding police raids on squats, a pattern has emerged. having just read a guardian article on snoop software supplied to governments, i offer an alert to activists who may have had computer equipment seized.

last week, several squats and some private homes were raided by police in what is generally thought to have been pre-emptive strikes against any possibility of dissent on the royal wedding day.

however, on speaking to residents from three of the squats, it has emerged that police were taking computer equipment like laptops, but not seizing any data drives.

if they were really seeking information or evidence, the drives would surely have been seized too.

my mind went to a guardian article i had just read about a british company offering sophisticated software to the egyptian government designed to infiltrate activists' computers and provide a backdoor for total monitoring and control of their computers.

the company, 'gamma international', is licensed to sell their 'finspy' products only to governments.

if your computer was seized by police, it may be sensible on its return to back up data and then do a complete diskwipe and clean install, otherwise, there is no guarantee that rogue 'trojan' software will not be monitoring your every stroke without your knowledge.

with the recent increase in use of undercover police in britain , and the recent 'anti-terrorist' suspension of civil liberties in france , there is no doubt that deployment of surreptitious and covert techniques is on the increase against peaceful dissent, so vigilance against unlawful intrusion should be considered quite seriously.



Hide the following 5 comments

thanks for this

02.05.2011 01:10

thanks for this, glad to know others are on the ball with this type of knowledge...keep spreading it comrade.

its interesting for me as ive spent half the day pottering around indymedia sites and have been dialoging with 'questionable' comrades who seemingly dont know their anarchism from their statist communism and I have been left feeling completely 'spied on'. I certainly feel my last computer was hacked into, particularly when my PC would crash at crucial moments or when visiting 'interesting to anarchos only' websites. I played around with the idea for a while, often visiting sites and leaving comments to see what would happen and sure enough, trolls would appear and my computer would crash at important moments. not withstanding the fact that computers are not perfect and crash for all types of reasons, it made me pretty much believe one hundred percent that the pigs/MI5/corporate spies were crashing my PC on purpose as they had no way of linking me to it directly so crashing it was the best they could do.
anyhoo, i could just be paranoid as usual, but its always food for thought......

thanks once again for posting.

grateful not dead


02.05.2011 07:47

Good point, I know this is serious and very possible but....

"monitoring your every stroke without your knowledge."



Get rid of it

02.05.2011 11:03

I wouldn't trust just wiping it id take it down cash converters and buy a new Computer
(not ideal but alot safer) theres no garante that youll Be able to get rid of the software


How backdoors work...

02.05.2011 12:08

This isn't a comprehensive post, but just wanted to offer a couple of thoughts:
1) Although most 'rootkits' (software installed covertly to give an attacker access to your computer) work by being installed on disk, many work by infiltrating other areas of a computer. In theory, they could be stored on many other pieces of hardware - your graphics card, BIOS chip, or other flash memory. So, formatting disks might not be enough.

2) Keyloggers can be installed as hardware. There are relatively cheap chips available that, when installed inside your keyboard, monitor keystrokes. It is entirely possible that law enforcement could use these to monitor keystrokes by radio from outside your house. If your equipment has been seized, it would be well worth checking if there is evidence of your keyboard has been tampered with. If you catch the police doing this, you might be able to take legal action against them...

3) In any case, if you do format your hard-drive, make sure you do it using a live cd - for instance, knoppix ( Any formatting program on disk may have been tampered with.

4) Much commercial software (such as windows), is rumoured to have backdoors already installed in it, at the request of law enforcement. Use open source alternatives (such as linux), where possible!

Hopefully this is useful to some. Try not to be too paranoid about it - although *in theory* all internet communication can be read and security broken, in practise it turns out to be much more complicated than in theory, and far too costly (in terms of reputation as well as expense) for GHCQ or Mi5 to use against most activists (IMHO).


This way lies paranoia

02.05.2011 16:42

Be careful with this - I know SHAC spent ages looking for infiltrators and bugs when their email got read in court but it turned out to be simple errors by their so called IT Guru !