[ISN] Beyond Carnivore: FBI Eyes Packet Taps

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Oct 22 2001 - 01:20:16 PDT

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "[ISN] Linux Advisory Watch - October 19th, 2001"

    By: Max Smetannikov 
    October 18, 2001
    Expect the FBI to expand its Internet wiretapping program, says a
    source familiar with the plan.
    Stewart Baker, a partner with law firm Steptoe & Johnson, is a former
    general counsel to the National Security Agency. He says the FBI has
    spent the last two years developing a new surveillance architecture
    that would concentrate Internet traffic in several key locations where
    all packets, not just e-mail, could be wiretapped. It is now planning
    to begin implementing this architecture using the powers it has under
    existing wiretapping laws.
    The FBI has acknowledged a program called Carnivore, which sniffs
    e-mail messages, but the new program is more extensive, Baker says.
    "The FBI has been gradually developing a set of guidelines, standards
    - call it what you will - a list of what law enforcement wants from
    packet data communications systems," Baker said. "And they are in the
    process of unveiling that over the next few months to ISPs and router
    manufacturers and the like."
    ISPs, Web hosters, vendors and other firms handling critical Internet
    infrastructure should expect the FBI trying to schedule meetings to
    deliver the details of their offering, and show the document
    containing the technical specifications, Baker said. He indicated that
    details of what this new surveillance architecture should look like
    are not clear. It is also possible the FBI has retained some
    well-known data infrastructure consulting firms to develop its new
    The new architecture is different from Carnivore because it would
    likely ask for certain types of data communications to be centralized,
    he said.
    "The goal might be to get companies that use packet data to have those
    packets go to one place for purposes of wiretap and other intercept
    capabilities," Baker said. "It's clear they [the Bureau] have decided
    that in the next year or so they are going to make a big push on
    packet data and they are going to use whatever leverage they can to
    get people to cooperate and to build a set of packet data systems that
    are more wiretap friendly than the ones we have today."
    The FBI spokesman overseeing Carnivore and other wiretapping issues
    didn't immediately return calls seeking comments.
    Whatever the new initiative ends up looking like, the Internet service
    provider community could be more likely to cooperate, shaken up by
    Sept. 11, said industry executives. But no one has heard of the FBI
    going beyond Carnivore at this point.
    "The FBI are trying to get Carnivore with a lot more ISPs," said
    Patrick Sweeney, president and chief executive of ServerVault, a Web
    hosting firm specializing in secure hosting.
    Reportedly, the FBI is trying to use sections of Title 18, the
    wiretapping law, to extend its eavesdropping coverage to e-mail,
    Sweeney said. While he was not familiar with the initiative Baker
    described, Sweeney said Bureau's interest in tracking data
    communications is not shocking, and might go beyond the FBI.
    "There are so many agencies that are working on procedures where they
    can make sure than entire comprehensive wireless and wireline tapping
    can be put into place if need be," he said.
    ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org
    To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY
    of the mail.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Oct 22 2001 - 03:08:01 PDT