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Documents: FBI Spyware Has Been Snaring Extortionists and Hackers for Years




Documents: FBI Spyware Has Been Snaring Extortionists and Hackers for Years
Documents: FBI Spyware Has Been Snaring Extortionists and Hackers for Years



http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/04/fbi-spyware-pro.html 

By Kevin Poulsen 
Threat Level
Wired.com
April 16, 2009

A sophisticated FBI-produced spyware program has played a crucial 
behind-the-scenes role in federal investigations into extortion plots, 
terrorist threats and hacker attacks in cases stretching back at least 
seven years, newly declassified documents show.

As first reported by Wired.com, the software, called a "computer and 
internet protocol address verifier," or CIPAV, is designed to infiltrate 
a target's computer and gather a wide range of information, which it 
secretly sends to an FBI server in eastern Virginia. The FBI's use of 
the spyware surfaced in 2007 when the bureau used it to track e-mailed 
bomb threats against a Washington state high school to a 15-year-old 
student.

But the documents released Thursday under the Freedom of Information Act 
show the FBI has quietly obtained court authorization to deploy the 
CIPAV in a wide variety of cases, ranging from major hacker 
investigations, to someone posing as an FBI agent online. Shortly after 
its launch, the program became so popular with federal law enforcement 
that Justice Department lawyers in Washington warned that overuse of the 
novel technique could result in its electronic evidence being thrown out 
of court in some cases.

"While the technique is of indisputable value in certain kinds of cases, 
we are seeing indications that it is being used needlessly by some 
agencies, unnecessarily raising difficult legal questions (and a risk of 
suppression) without any countervailing benefit," reads a 
formerly-classified March 7, 2002 memo from the Justice Department's 
Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

[...]


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