German police ready to hack encrypted messaging services

  • Roman Šulc
  • 28.9.2017 10:54

According to an internal report of the Federal Ministry of the Interior leaked in July, German security agencies will gain technology that enables access to encrypted communication in applications such as WhatsApp by the end of 2017. Aside from the currently supported desktop computers, the updated version of the Remote Communication Interception Software (RCIS) will allow for bypassing of encryption in apps running on Android, iOS and Blackberry mobile platforms. Due to the document's date (2016), it is safe to assume that security forces have been working on the surveillance solution before they received the permission to use it. A recently adopted legislation, which allows police to implant trojans to hack into smart devices of not only terror suspects but also other criminals, was likely written to support the mentioned initiative and not the other way around. The document also reveals that the German authorities purchased the FinSpy tool as a backup software that, in addition to remote recording of calls and text messages, also has the ability to activate a device's camera and microphone and monitor its location in real time.

Access to the content of cryptographically protected communication apps is demanded by a number of European countries, including the United Kingdom and France. However, techniques such as malware deployment and exploitation of unannounced vulnerabilities are controversial, as they weaken the security of the targeted hardware/software and thus put end-users at risk. In addition to the expanded monitoring powers of the federal authorities, on 14 September Germany opened a new independent cyber agency ZITiS, which will focus on tackling cybercrime via mass telecommunication surveillance and data collection


About author: Roman Šulc


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