Spy software suspicions set Berlin searching for State Trojan
Oct 10, 2011, 15:08 GMT
Berlin - Allegations over the weekend that German authorities had used illegal software - a State Trojan as it has come to be called - to ferret information out of private computers had officials across the country rushing to denounce the programme's use.
The allegations, brought up over the weekend by the Chaos Computer Club, an organization of hackers, have left officials trying to figure out who would have authorized software that not only gathers transmitted data, but opens a back door to let investigators install further spyware on an unsuspecting computer.
The matter was hardly cleared up at a regular government press conference Monday when an Interior Ministry spokesman said the software in question was three years old and had never been put into use on a federal level.
But reporters quickly noted that the certain aspects of the federal government - Customs, for example - do not fall under the purview of the Interior Ministry. Suspicion also quickly turned to state governments, which operate their own network of police and investigators.
Attention quickly focused on the southern state of Munich, after a lawyer said his client had had the software in question installed on his computer during a customs check.
That software, which could be legally used for monitoring telecommunications, had been altered to allow it to grab screen shots off the computer, argued lawyer Patrick Schladt in an online post.
'Even if the measures were under the purview of Bavarian officials, there is no question for me that parts of the federal government - customs, or even customs police - played a role.'
He further argued that the Chaos Club had found the software up and running on multiple computers across the country.
Federal government spokesman Steffen Seibert said any use of such technology was clearly illegal and would be investigated.
'We are taking (the allegations) very seriously,' he said. 'We will need to check all systems thoroughly.'
The statement came as a variety of politicians were decrying the invasion of privacy and the misuse of investigative tools. Several legislators promised committee investigations into the matter.