back to article UK spies: You know how we said bulk device hacking would be used sparingly? Well, things have 'evolved'...

UK spies are planning to increase their use of bulk equipment interference, as the range of encrypted hardware and software applications they can't tap into increases. Equipment interference (EI) – formerly known as computer network exploitation – is the phrase used for spies poking around in devices, like phones or computers …

Page:

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Belgian telcos will have to up their game now. Can't have all those waffle recipes remaining secret!

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      You'd hope the Begium teclos have upped their game significantly already. The Belgium government might not be of any interest to anybody in the world, but the same does not apply to the EU parliament and EU commission.

      If we are/were the only people spying on them then that is probably because GCHQ secured the systems behind their own hack to lock other attackers out.

      1. _LC_

        But of course

        "If we are/were the only people spying on them then that is probably because GCHQ secured the systems behind their own hack to lock other attackers out."

        Sorry for raping your sister. I just wanted to ensure that nobody else was gonna rape her. *Hmmm*?!?

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          "Sorry for raping your sister. I just wanted to ensure that nobody else was gonna rape her."

          Pretty much.

          Although when you say it like that you make it sound so psychopathic.

          1. Mycho Silver badge

            Re: "Sorry for...

            The first ever trial for virus/worm writing included the phrase 'we do not thank terrorists for improving airport security'

            Decades later it's still worth remembering.

      2. Danny 2 Silver badge

        "the same does not apply to the EU parliament and EU"

        NATO and SWIFT are maybe more concerning than the EU, and they're HQed in Belgium too.

    2. GnuTzu Bronze badge
      Big Brother

      Lotta Waffles

      Oh, just that use of the word "bulk" creeps me out.

    3. David Shaw

      I'm more worried [ https://howmanydaystill.com/its/brexit-6 ] that someone continental might unplug the whole of UK from the internet on CE/R&TTE grounds due to too much electrical interference!

      Perhaps there are plans to reroute transatlantic cables to Eire, then to Brittany, then on to waffle-land. It's not that inconceivable from where I'm sitting, but hopefully it won't happen, the unplugging - so carry-on interfering electrically, and don't panic, otherwise you'll all have to spy on yourselves rather a lot. I know that your tier partners would still like to send you squirrely stuff, but that can be sent by standardised carrier pigeon rfc2549 or perhaps by covert Clacks from Cap Gris-Nez?

  2. h4rm0ny

    And yet at the time, there were those saying this wouldn't happen.

    There are always those saying these things wont happen. And by the time it does, they're busy saying something else wont happen and that everybody knew the other thing would and why are you still talking about it?

    When new powers are introduced, unless penalties are for misuse of those powers are introduced at the same time, they will always be abused.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      When new powers are introduced, unless penalties are for misuse of those powers are introduced at the same time, they will always be abused.

      As I always say, you should never never give the government any powers a rabbi wouldn't be comfortable giving to Hitler.

    2. DCFusor Silver badge

      "When new powers are introduced, unless penalties are for misuse of those powers are introduced at the same time, they will always be abused."

      Optimist. Haven't you watched long enough to see how redefinition/spin/selective enforcement work in the real world? How about "There are apparently no exceptions whatever to power always being abused".

  3. Christoph Silver badge

    Mission creep? Good grief! Who could possibly have expected that? (Aside from everyone who isn't actually living on Rockall).

    1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
      Trollface

      (Aside from everyone who isn't actually living on Rockall).

      I'm told that there is a thriving population of amoeba on Rockall and am almost certain that they have a better grasp of the situation than people like miss hashtags.

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge

      It seems they haven't learned anything from what happened after the Snowden revelations. We found out that they were listening into everything so companies and by extension individuals moved to https over http and encrypted over plaintext. Now they want to put malware on everyone's devices so that the encryption is useless - ignoring the fact that it will be impossible to secure their malware from anyone else that wants to use it. This will only lead to a rise in fully segregated OSes like Qubes and then they'll fucking whine about that.

      How about you use the powers sparingly and in a targeted manner and not like a ADHD kid hyped on sugar and perhaps people won't secure the bejesus out of everything? Although the horse has likely bolted on that one due to your immoral "bulk" nonsense.

  4. Queeg

    Well, Well

    What a surprise.

    Who'da thought they'd want to overuse a handy tool they were given.

    Never has my Flabber been so Gasted.

    still waiting for that sarcasm icon El Reg

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Well, Well

      "still waiting for that sarcasm icon El Reg"

      Can't you make do with the poker-face? -->

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Well, Well

      Who'da thought they'd want to overuse a handy tool they were given.

      Happens to every tool like that. It is only a matter of time until intelligence assets are used against opposition too. At least in Banana republics. If you are not counting down, I am.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Well, Well

      Try the facepalm....

    4. Mephistro Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Well, Well

      "...still waiting for that sarcasm icon El Reg..."

      For that purpose, I often use the "Spawn of Satan" icon.

  5. Whitter
    Boffin

    The underlying message

    It seems to me that what they are saying is that they will pretty much try their damnedest to sniff all encrypted traffic if they can. Hide in plain sight may be the only option for the <insert bad group here>

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: The underlying message

      Our politicians seem to thrive that way.....

    2. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: The underlying message

      Hide in plain sight may be the only option for the <insert bad group here>

      I think you'll find that the IBGH already do. They realised long ago that the US had the ability to backdoor or hack most IT and comms hardware, from user devices through modems, routers, network switches to DC hardware, and even if a digital or voice message can be securely encrypted end-to-end, it still gives things away in duration, locations, and the network of contacts.

      Far safer to use a chain of disposable couriers given idiot codes. The courier doesn't understand the code, so the best the "official" side can do is hope to disrupt the transmission - and unless it knows the couriers it can't easily track and disrupt it. Even if they get lucky, intercepting the transmission and seizing the code doesn't help because it can't be cracked and the courier doesn't know what it means.

      Ultimately if you throw enough surveillance at it this can be tracked from "head office" down to operatives, but just look how long it took the US to find IBL, with the entire weight of the Western world's intelligence agencies on the job, along with military surveillance assets, and for all practical terms no legal oversight or restraint. And despite the billions spent on that, the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia is drifting back into its Wahabi extremism. I really don't see how bulk EI is going to help in the failed wars on terror, drugs and motorists.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Gimp

        "I really don't see how bulk EI is going to help in the failed wars on terror, drugs and motorists."

        What makes you think this is their "enemy" ?

        It's their excuse.

        The real enemy of all data fetishists is everyone.

        Everyone who says things they can't hear.

        Everyone who thinks things they don't know about.

        Because once you have 6 lines from an honest man you can find something to hang them with.

      2. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: The underlying message

        Bulk surveillance is about quashing dissent. It is about preventing the rise of a leader capable of bringing about the demise of the military industrial complex and upsetting the status quo. It is about their enemies not ours. Every now and again they might stumble upon the odd useful bone to throw out to justify their existence. Bulk surveillance is useless for its stated purpose. Always has been, always will be. When one of the architects of mass surveillance - William Binney - states that it is useless for their intended aims you know that's not its purpose.

  6. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Admirable transparency by @GCHQ ??????

    Call me a cynic but my first taught at seeing that was that they have been caught with their pants down somehow, and now want to spin the message before the $%!t hits the fan.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Number Six: Where am I?

    Number Two: In the Village.

    Number Six: What do you want?

    Number Two: Information.

    Number Six: Whose side are you on?

    Number Two: That would be telling. We want information… information… information.

    Number Six: You won't get it.

    Number Two: By hook or by crook, we will.

    Number Six: Who are you?

    Number Two: The new Number Two.

    Number Six: Who is Number One?

    Number Two: You are Number Six.

    Number Six: I am not a number! I am a free man!

  8. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Black Helicopters

    Things haven't evolved

    "Things have evolved". I very much doubt that. This was, I believe, the game plan all along. It's only being done now because it's taken them this long to build the infrastructure for it. No point getting the great unwashed upset at their political masters before time, eh what? Not that it won't be too late to stop it already, of course...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Equipment interference

    Beginning at O2?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Equipment interference

      Have they hacked oxygen now?

      1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

        Re: Equipment interference

        ... pretty sure that happened in the 1940's and 1950's to all elements.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Equipment interference

          Not all.

          Transuranic heavy elements may not be used where there is life. Medium atomic weights are available: Gold, Lead, Copper, Jet, Diamond, Radium, Sapphire, Silver and Steel. Sapphire and Steel have been assigned.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Sapphire & Steel

            Thanks for reminding me, I have the whole set waiting for me to watch over the xmas break :D

  10. Augie
    Big Brother

    1984 eat your tits off, soon enough bad thought crimes abound and interment camps for those who dare think beyond the government line..

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      1984 was just a draft, it has since 'evolved' many times.

      1. IceC0ld Bronze badge

        1984 was just a draft, it has since 'evolved' many times.

        1984 was supposed to be a bloody WARNING

        NOT an instruction manual .................

        starting to look a lot like The Minority Report :o(

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is probably trying to get legality for what they already have in place or do we believe that after Snowden all those companies just stopped working with intelligence agencies?

    1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

      Have you not been reading these forums? If seemingly intelligent people take a party line (passed to them by news rags) on people who have undermined covert ops, thought-crimes 'are so yesterdaaay'.

  12. JohnFen Silver badge

    Nobody actually believed them, right?

    "During the passage of the Investigatory Powers legislation, he said, the government anticipated bulk EI warrants would be "the exception", and "be limited to overseas 'discovery' based EI operations"."

    If you grant a body with a power, you can be absolutely certain that the power will be used to the fullest extent possible. If the limits of a granted power aren't part of the legislation granting the power, then those limits don't exist. What they say about "intention" is always meaningless.

  13. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Rigor

    bulk EU would require "particularly rigorous and technically-informed oversight"

    Spook: I need an EI warrant.

    Overseer: Why?

    Spook: I can't tell you, it's classified; but trust me.

    Overseer: OK, then. <rubber-stamps application>

  14. DCFusor Silver badge

    And people laugh at the US government

    Yeah, I know, it just irks me that others seem to think theirs is any better because your clowns use slightly different makeup.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stupid terrorists!

    will be caught!

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: stupid terrorists!

      It's not the stupid ones that worry me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: stupid terrorists!

        survival of the fittest includes all kinds of people, why would terrorists be excluded?

        ...

        therefore we need MORE powers to defeat them!!!! :/

  16. BleedinObvious
    Trollface

    O2 national outage + GCHQ equipment interference announcement

    = Coincidence?

  17. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Flame

    Is anyone surprised?

    Didn't think so.

  18. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    incentive

    Espionage is often described as an arms race. What does that mean for gchq ?

    In WWII, it was mathematicians following orders vs. mathematicians trying to outwit johnny foreigner. Easy to see who's going to win there (and we have no information about how well johnny foreigner managed to penetrate our brave eggheads).

    Currently, it's people being paid by the hour trying to outdo : terrorists whose lives / life missions depend on their methods, and enthusiasts (hackers, cryptogeeks, whatever you want to call them) who see it as a game.

    The smart money's not on the government any more.

  19. martinusher Silver badge

    Now we know why the Guvmint doesn't like Chinese kit

    Official View: We're concerned about the Chinese spying on us so don't buy it

    Reality: We can't figure out a way to screw with this kit to get us the information we want**

    (** Because we've had to live with the "Chinese Spying" and "Backdoor" miasma for so long Chinese companies have had to demonstrate to all interested parties that their kit is clean in order to sell it. Its the same with Kaspersky's anti-virus -- we don't like it because we can't compromise it (and it keeps catching us out).)

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      Re: Now we know why the Guvmint doesn't like Chinese kit

      Official View: We're concerned about the Chinese spying on us so don't buy it

      We're concerned that the Chinese kit will stop us from spying on our people so don't buy it FTFY

  20. SNAFUology
    Angel

    No, Not us !

    Seems they need another department to aid deniability how about AI4 to go with MI5 & MI6 !?

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019