Europol iocta 2017 rapport

Europol brengt elk jaar het ‘internet organised threat assessment’ (iocta) rapport uit. Het rapport komt tot stand aan de hand van vragenlijsten aan politieorganisaties binnen de EU en door input van bedrijven. Het biedt een interessant en gedetailleerde inzicht in de actuele stand van cybercrime. Ook dit jaar sprak het rapport mij aan en daarom heb ik een samenvatting gemaakt van de belangrijkste bevindingen. Deze samenvatting wil ik de geïnteresseerde lezer natuurlijk niet onthouden.

Ransomware

Ransomware vormt volgens Europol de belangrijkste malware dreiging, gelet op de slachtoffers en de schade die het met zich meebrengt. Met ransomware wordt relatief eenvoudig geld verdiend. Door het gebruik van cryptocurrencies, zoals Bitcoin, zijn de verdiensten bovendien relatief eenvoudig wit te wassen. Naast Bitcoin worden ook Monero, Etherium en ZCash in toenemende mate door cybercriminelen gebruikt. ‘Kirk’ is de eerste ransomware, waarbij Monero werd gebruikt voor het losgeld (in plaats van Bitcoin).

Niet alleen individuen worden door cybercriminelen met ransomware aangevallen, maar ook ziekenhuizen, de politie en overheidsinstellingen. MKB-bedrijven worden steeds vaker aangevallen, mede vanwege hun beperkte budget om voldoende beveiligingsmaatregelen te nemen. Europol spreekt van een “explosie van ransomware” dat op de markt komt, waarbij sommige rapporten spreken van een toename van 750% in 2016 ten opzichte van 2015.

Information stealers

Information stealers’ vormen de op een na grootste bedreiging met betrekking tot malware. Het kost cybercriminelen aanzienlijk meer moeite de benodigde informatie te stelen (zoals financiële gegevens) en het is voor criminelen lastiger met deze malware geld te verdienen vergeleken met ransomware. In het rapport wordt terecht opgemerkt dat Europol een vertekend beeld krijgt van de malwaredreiging, omdat mensen vaak de gevolgen van het gebruik van malware rapporteren. De IT beveiligingsindustrie geeft daarom noodzakelijke input voor het rapport. Binnen deze industrie bestaat een meer volledig beeld van de dreiging.

Slechte beveiliging IoT-apparaten

Europol signaleert ook de dat zwakke beveiliging van Internet of Things-apparaten cyberaanvallen in de hand werkt. Het Mirai-botnet, dat werd gevormd door lekke en misbruikte IoT-apparaten, heeft in 2016 met een zeer sterke (d)DoS-aanval de Amerikaanse DNS-provider Dyn platgelegd, waardoor populaire diensten als Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, Netflix, Reddit en PayPal ongeveer 2 uur onbereikbaar waren. Denail-of-service aanvallen zijn eenvoudig uit te voeren. Een botnet die in staat is een denial-of-service aanval van 5 minuten op een webshop uit te voeren, kan slechts voor 5 dollar op websites worden gehuurd.

Kinderpornografie op internet

Kinderpornografie op internet blijft een groot probleem. Het aanbod, de verspreiding en vervaardiging van het materiaal lijkt niet af te nemen. Daarnaast worden enorme hoeveelheden kinderporno in beslag genomen. Volgens Europol zijn hoeveelheden 1-3 Terabyte niet ongebruikelijk met 1 tot 10 miljoen afbeeldingen met kinderpornografie. Peer-to-peer programma’s, zoals GigaTribe, worden nog steeds door kinderpornogebruikers misbruikt voor de verspreiding en het binnenhalen van kinderporno. Europol signaleert dat ook populaire apps en sociale mediadiensten in toenemende mate worden misbruikt.

Het is ook helder dat websites op het darkweb worden gebruikt voor toegang en verspreiding tot kinderporno. Het rapport haalt aan hoe de hack op het hosting bedrijf ‘Freedom Hosting II’ 10.000 darknet websites blootlegde, waarvan 50% kinderpornografische afbeeldingen bevatte. Deze websites zijn overigens vaak gespecialiseerd in kinderporno, omdat online marktplaatsen geen kinderporno accepteren. Zowel op het ‘Surface web’ als op het ‘dark web’ zijn er pay-per-view-diensten beschikbaar waarop kinderpornografische materiaal wordt aangeboden. Volgens Europol maken veel Westelingen gebruik van de diensten, waarbij vooral minderjarigen uit de Zuidoost-Azië en Afrika worden misbruikt. De opsporing van deze misdrijven wordt bemoeilijkt door het gebruik van gratis WiFi-diensten die bijvoorbeeld in de Filipijnen aan arme wijken worden aangeboden. Het is daardoor lastig op basis van het IP-adres de slachtoffers te identificeren.

Fraude met betaalkaarten

Het gebruik chipbetaalkaarten met de EMV-standaard is nog niet alle staten gemeengoed geworden. Betaalkaarten en betaalautomaten die niet van standaard gebruik maken, worden op grote schaal misbruik om fraude en andere delicten zoals de aankoop van drugs mee te plegen. In het rapport worden spectaculaire hacks beschreven waarbij pinautomaten of het systeem dat de pinbetalingen faciliteert worden gehackt, waarna de pinautomaten automatisch geld uitspuwen of geld tot een veel hoger bedrag (tot 200.000 euro) kan worden opgenomen. Verwezen worden naar de ‘Carnabak’-groep die in 2014-2015 op deze manier 1 miljard dollar buit heef gemaakt. Meer recent is volgens Europol de ‘Cobalt’-groep actief geweest met het infecteren van pinautomaten met malware om frauduleuze pinopnamen te doen binnen de Europese Unie, waaronder Nederland.

Groei darknet markets

In het rapport wordt veel aandacht besteed aan de groei van ‘darknet markets’. De online handelsplatformen op het darkweb zijn toegankelijk via Tor, I2P en Freenet, waarbij de illegale activiteiten zich nog voornamelijk via Tor afspelen. In juni 2017 had het Tor netwerk 2.2 miljoen actieve gebruikers en bevatte het bijna 60.000 unieke .onion domeinnamen. De gebruikmaking van deze diensten zijn nog niet de standaard geworden voor de distributie van illegale goederen. Maar de darknet markets groeien snel met een eigen klantenkring in de gebieden van illegale drugshandel, wapenhandel en kinderporno. Daarnaast worden ook veel persoonsgegevens, in het bijzondere gegevens over betaalkaarten en login gegevens voor online bankieren, op het dark web aangeboden. Volgens Europol maken de volgende drie factoren het gebruik van Tor voor criminelen aantrekkelijk: (1) een bepaalde mate van anonimiteit, (2) een diverse markt aan kopers die minder lijflijk risico lopen en kunnen betalen met cryptocurrencies en (3) een goede kwaliteit van producten die worden verkocht door aanbieders die worden beoordeeld op basis van reviews.

Encryptie en dataretentie belemmering de opsporing

Voor het tweede jaar achtereen geeft Europol in het rapport ook de boodschap af encryptie de opsporing voor cybercrime belemmert. Het maakt het aftappen van telecommunicatieverkeer minder effectief en belemmert digitaal forensisch onderzoek. Daarnaast is helder dat de onrechtmatig verklaring van de dataretentierichtlijn op 8 april 2014 door het Hof van Justitie van de EU een ‘aanzienlijke negatieve invloed’ heeft op de mogelijkheden van opsporingsautoriteiten om bewijsmateriaal veilig te stellen. In sommige lidstaten is nog steeds dataretentieregelgeving voor telecommunicatiedienstverleners (waaronder ISP’s) van kracht, maar veel andere EU lidstaten niet. Deze fragmentatie belemmert de internationale opsporing van cybercrime. Europol doet geen voorstellen tot maatregelen op dit gebied, wellicht omdat het te politiek gevoelig is, maar benadrukt de problematiek die het met zich meebrengt.

Criminal procedure and the digital revolution

A digital revolution has taken place for law enforcement authorities. A treasure trove of information is currently publicly available on the Internet. In addition, large amounts of information can be gathered from third parties, such as telecommunication providers, financial institutions and online service providers. Furthermore, law enforcement authorities can analyse every piece of information on seized computers with specialised software. All that information can be combined and processed and thereby provides great investigative potential for law enforcement authorities.

The Dutch legislator is currently seeking to amend (in Dutch) the Dutch Criminal Code of Criminal Procedure (DCCP) and aims to take into account the influence of Information and Communication Technology on police work. However the current plans only take into consideration the gathering of publicly available information and the seizure of computers. Yet these investigation methods are not the full spectrum of digital investigation methods that is available to law enforcement authorities. Remarkably, even the planned amendments to the DCCP to accommodate these two investigation methods – and beef up the safeguards to protect the individuals involved – have now been put on hold or will be further researched to assess their desirability.

‘Open source information’

Publicly available online information provides a powerful tool for surveillance by law enforcement authorities. People willingly post large amounts of personal information about themselves on online forums and social media services. Other individuals can also post information about people on the Internet. In law enforcement terms that information is called ‘open source’ information, i.e. information that anyone can access, purchase, or gather by observation. The thing is that law enforcement officials do not even know themselves under which conditions and to what extent the information can be collected.

Also note that the collected information can be combined with other information collected from third parties and further processed. By use of specialised software an intricate picture of certain aspects of an individual’s life and relationships with other individuals can be obtained. In first instance, the Dutch legislator proposed creating detailed regulations in the DCCP to regulate the investigation method. However the Dutch police do not support this proposal and the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice has now put these plans on hold to assess their desirability.

A warrant for computer searches

The second amendment proposed was for the seizure and subsequent analysis of data stored on computers. The Dutch Minister of Security and Justice acknowledges (p. 83) the serious privacy interference that takes place when computers are seized and suggests that ‘a higher authority’ should authorise the seizure. In my previous blog post I argued that a warrant requirement and mandatory limitation of the scope of the warrant are therefore appropriate safeguards for the seizure of computers. These safeguards can be derived from case law by the European Court of Human Rights regarding computer searches. Yet the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice does not even refer to that case law or current Dutch case law on the subject. Dutch law enforcement authorities fear a significant administrative burden (p. 8) due to proposed changes in legislation. Therefore further research has been announced to investigate the desirability of the amendment. Indeed, a warrant requirement will bring with it more paperwork. Yet it is an important safeguard in protecting individuals from the arbitrary interference of law enforcement authorities in our private lives. Possibly the Dutch Supreme Court will step in and require a warrant for seizing and analysing the contents stored on computers in the meantime.

Concluding remarks

In my view, the proposed Dutch reforms for criminal procedure do not fully appreciate the consequences that technology bring with for criminal investigations. The amount of data that law enforcement authorities can collect and the tools at their disposal to process every piece of that information should not be underestimated. The two proposed amendments are a start in thinking about those consequences and how to regulate digital investigation methods. Therefore it is unfortunate that those amendments will now be put on hold, possibly toned down, and further researched for their desirability.

Arguably, the ambition of updating criminal procedure law to fit the new digital investigation landscape is too ambitious and a separate legislative project is desirable. In addition, it is possible that certain restrictions on investigation methods are better suited for regulation outside criminal procedure. However, in any case, there should be a sense of urgency to accommodate digital investigation methods in our legal framework and provide sufficient safeguards for the individuals involved. To be continued I hope.

This blog post is cross-post from LeidenLawBlog.nl

Hacking without a legal basis

In May 2014, the Dutch Public Prosecution Office announced that the Dutch police participated in a global action against ‘Blackshades’ malware. Blackshades enables individuals to remotely take over computers and copy information (among other functionalities). The Dutch press release stated that:

“Team High Tech Crime of the Dutch police saw an opportunity to enter the Blackshades server and secure a large amount of information. The location of the server is unknown”.

This statement implies that Dutch law enforcement authorities entered the server remotely to copy data. Said in other words, Dutch law enforcement authorities hacked a server without knowing the location of the server to secure information. Indeed, recent answers to parliamentary questions confirmed the computer was ‘remotely accessed’(hacked) by law enforcement authorities during the operation in May. In addition, the Dutch Minister of Security of Justice stated in the letter to the Dutch Parliament that art. 125i of the Dutch Code of Criminal Procedural (DCCP) provides for a legal basis to access computer remotely (by hacking) and copy information.

The problem with this letter is that there is arguably no legal basis for hacking in Dutch criminal procedural law. The statement of the Minister of Safety and Justice is in my view worrisome, because a special investigation power is interpreted very broadly by the minister to suit the needs of law enforcement authorities. This undermines a fundamental principle of our criminal law system.

Art. 125i DCCP does not provide a legal basis for hacking

Art. 125i DCCP provides for an ill-understood investigation power that allows law enforcement authorities to search a place in order to secure information stored on computers. The article specifically refers to existing investigation powers for search and seizure at a particular place by law enforcement authorities. Therefore, art. 125i DCCP should always be read in conjunction with the power to search a place, seize a computer and subsequently search data on a computer. In the letter, the minister seems to ignore these explicitly referred to powers of search and seizure at a particular place.

For example, a public prosecutor can seize a computer located at hosting provider and search the data stored on a computer in an effort to secure the sought after data upon the legal basis of art. 125i DCCP jo art. 96c DCCP. These powers for search and seizure are simply different from hacking as an investigation method. The most notable difference between hacking and the search and seizure of computers is that hacking takes place remotely in secret, whereas the search and seizure of computers takes place at a particular place in the presence of witnesses.

There are good reasons to think that the Dutch legal framework to analyse data on computers is outdated. Additionally, there are good reasons why law enforcement authorities feel the need to be able to access computers remotely to acquire information relevant to a criminal investigation. But a key principle and essential to the rule of law is that law enforcement authorities are bound by the law. In my view, as I argued extensively in 2011 and 2013 (in Dutch), Dutch criminal procedural law does not provide for the investigation power to hack computers by law enforcement authorities.

Criminal procedural legality principle

In Dutch criminal procedural law, investigation methods that infringe in the right to privacy in more than a minor way or threaten the integrity of a criminal investigation require detailed regulations. This ‘criminal procedural legality principle’ with regard to the regulation of investigation methods ensures that governmental powers are controlled by the law and prevent arbitrary interferences by the government in the private lives of citizens. The principle also ensures that governmental powers to investigate crime are foreseeable to citizens. In essence, this legality principle harnesses governmental power which is essential to the rule of law.

Therefore, I find it curious our Minister of Security and Justice endorses a broad and highly debatable interpretation of the law to enable law enforcement authorities to hack computers, especially considering that a new legislative proposal is under way which aims to regulate hacking as an investigation power. This ‘Computer Crime Act III’ will be send to the Dutch Parliament in early 2015.

A democratic legislative process is required to provide Dutch law enforcement authorities with the powers that a majority of the elected representatives of the Dutch people find appropriate. Perhaps hacking computers under stringent conditions to allow for evidence gathering activities is desirable as a new investigation power. But in the meantime, the criminal procedural legality principle as a key principle in Dutch criminal procedural law should not be ignored.

This is a cross post from LeidenLawBlog.nl

Is data retention useless?

“Data retention of web data is useless” were the headlines of some news outlets in the Netherlands a few weeks ago. In my view the journalists jumped to conclusions after quickly reading the evaluation report (.pdf) of the Research and Documentation Centre of the Dutch Ministry of Safety and Justice with regard to data retention (English summary is available on p. 151-159). I think some more nuance is needed and it may be interesting to compare the report to my own research results with regard to data retention after several successful data access requests.

Retention of telephony data

The authors of the report explain that telephony data is nowadays used in almost every criminal investigation. Location data and call detail records are particularly useful according to interviewed investigators and based on case law.

Two researchers tried to obtain their own telecommunications data with a data access request, but were unable to obtain location data. My own data access request proved more successful as described is a previous blog post. I recognize the researchers experience it was too difficult to obtain the data and stress there are questions surrounding our governments plans to leave out notification requirements after certain types of data have been collected by law enforcement officials.

Retention of internet data

The retention of internet related data regards internet access, e-mail provided by ISPs and managed VoIP-telephony. The full list of data that must be retained for 6 months is available here at section “B”. Thus, search queries and visited websites are not retained by telecommunication companies, as well as the ‘contents’ of e-mail messages and other messages or conversations held using the Internet.

My own data request at broadband internet access provider revealed that in a period of three days was only one IP-address and the subscriber data was retained. Since I do no use the e-mail client provided by my ISP, there is no e-mail data available. The report tellingly quoted a law enforcement official that stated that practically “only 55-years-olds and above” still privately use e-mail of their internet access providers. Webbased telecommunication services are not obligated to retain data. The available data can only be obtained using legal aid requests. Researchers point out there are significantly less data requests in the Netherlands at these foreign providers than in other EU countries, but they cannot explain why.

Identifying internet users

An important question is how internet related data retention data is used in criminal investigations. The authors of the report explain that the retention of internet data is primarily used in cybercrime investigations (investigations in which the Internet plays a facilitating role in the commission of the crime). The retention of the assigned IP-address to the router of a broadband internet connection may enable law enforcement officials to (eventually) identify suspects. In cybercrime investigations, in some cases a logged IP-address of a device used to perpetrate a crime is the only lead available. Tracing back the IP-address may to an ISP, depending on what service is used to access the Internet and whether anonymizing services are used.

Since suspects may just as well live in a different country than the Netherlands when committing a cybercrime, the trace often leads to a foreign ISP. According to the author of the report, investigators therefore largely depend legal aid requests to collect the available data. When data retention regulations are in place, the data is at least available for a period of time. However, not all EU Member States implemented the EU Data retention directive and local regulations always differ which can be frustrating for law enforcement officials.

Most significantly, the researchers suggest it may be very difficult to identify mobile internet users solely upon the basis of an IP-address (p. 102-106). My own data access request at my telephone provider revealed that the assigned IP-addresses by the telephone company was often the same. It is likely that many people at the same time make use of the same IP-address using Network Address Translation (NAT) technologies, after which the internet traffic is distributed further through the companies infrastructure. All these people then make use of the same IP-address. When there is no additional information retained about the devices it may be difficult to identify individual users who were all assigned the same IP-address. I cannot determine upon the basis of the available information whether telecommunication providers are able to trace back individual users upon the basis of an IP-address, but if I’m reading it correctly the research report suggests they cannot. That seems as a rather significant conclusion to me.

Interestingly, the interviewed law enforcement officials unanimously agree the retention period of 6 months for internet related data is too short. Taking in consideration the amount of time criminal investigations can take I understand these statements from an investigation perspective. But the Dutch parliamentary shortened the retention of internet data from 1 year to 6 months in 2011 citing privacy concerns. The researchers report also explain how many of the interviewed law enforcement officials were unaware internet related data was retained. Internet related retention data is primarily used in cybercrime investigations. The researchers point out there is still a knowledge deficit among law enforcement officials on how to the use internet related data in criminal investigations regarding crimes of all types.

Conclusion

Contrary to what some news articles suggest, the collection of data at telecommunication providers – of which the availability is ensured by data retention legislation – is almost standard practice in criminal investigations. It is deemed as ‘very useful’ by investigators and case law suggests the data is relatively often used as evidence in criminal cases.

Data retention of internet related communications prove to be particularly useful in many cybercrime investigations, because the retention of assigned IP-addresses to broadband Internet customers may enable law enforcement officials to identify internet users. When a different internet connection than a household internet connection is used, it may be difficult to identify internet users. Perhaps internet users can even stay anonymous by using a mobile internet connection. This seems strange, because data retention legislation is specifically created to identify people and aid in criminal investigations. Indeed, the obligatory retention of mobile internet related data seems rather useless in case the information cannot be used to identify people. However, the location data that is retained every time data is transmitted through a telecommunications network still often aids in criminal investigations.

Before the legislator considers to expand data retention regulations, it may be worth considering whether there is other information available at third parties that can be collected to identify internet users. People also often have to login to make use of the internet access service which may provide for leads and there may be camera footage available for example. The regulations for the retention of internet data must be reviewed on its own merits, because it is simply not the same as telephony data. The future will tell us how the legislators respond to the research findings of the report. The Dutch minister of Security and Justice already announced he will review in the coming months whether expanding the list of data retention is desirable.

Extraterritorial use of policeware in the United States?

Last week, the story broke that a judge from Texas (United States) had published a decision  (.pdf) denying a warrant for the placement of “policeware” on a computer of an unknown suspect at an unknown location. Policeware is special surveillance software, also called “spyware”, utilized to secretly monitor all kinds of internet activities of a computer user. The decision is interesting because it sheds light on the use of policeware in the United States.

Capabilities of the software

Judge Smith explains that the FBI requested to install “data extraction software” on the “Target Computer” (presumably the computer of a suspect). This software has the capability to search the computer’s hard drive, random access memory, and other storage media (thus perform a “remote search”). Additionally, the software can “activate the computer’s built-in camera, generate latitude and longitude coordinates for the computer’s location and transmit the extracted data to FBI agents in the district”. By installing the software, the FBI wishes to obtain information such as web browsing history, e-mail contents, e-mail contacts, chat logs, photographs and correspondence. The law enforcement agency also wishes to use the built-in camera to make photographs to identify the person using the target computer.

Extraterritorial application of a warrant to install policeware

The Texan judge then ascertains whether the request complies with the warrant requirements as described in Rule 41 of the U.S. Federal Rules of Criminal procedure. This blog post does not allow to me elaborate on the judge’s decision and the requirements of a “Rule 41 warrant”, but I do want to point out that the judge establishes that Rule 41 only allows for searches “in the district of the judge”. In this case the territoriality requirement is not met, because the search does not take place within the district, “so far as the Government’s application shows”, according to the judge. Note the judge’s witty remark that the search takes place: “not in the airy nothing of cyberspace, but in the physical space with a local habitation and a name”.

U.S. digital surveillance expert Orin Kerr analyzed the court decision of judge Smith on the popular legal blog “The Volokh Conspiracy”. I found his considerations about the applicability of the warrant requirement on a potentially foreign suspect particularly fascinating. It is standing case law (under United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990) that the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not apply outside the United States. Since it is likely the physical computer will be searched overseas (because the last known IP address is traced back somewhere in Southeast Asia), the government does not need a warrant to search the physical computer. However, Kerr believes the search also takes place in the United States when the information is analyzed by U.S. law enforcement officials and therefore a warrant is required “for that part of the search that takes place in judge Smith’s home district”.  Kerr ultimately finds the arguments presented by judge Smith to deny the warrant unconvincing.

Conclusion

Kerr’s analysis of the case begs the question: is it desirable that the United States could potentially perform searches of computers and install policeware on computers in foreign territory by unilaterally applying their criminal procedural rules to foreigners? If the answer is no, keep in mind that the Dutch government suggested more or less the same thing on p. 34-35 in their announcement today (in Dutch) to amend the Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure to make hacking and the placement of spyware possible on computers “if their location is unknown” (see also this blog post).

I’m curious to hear from international criminal law legal experts and others as to what they think of this.

This is a cross post from LeidenLawBlog.nl.

Some thoughts on the EU cybersecurity directive

Last week the European Commission presented a proposal for a directive (.pdf) on cybersecurity. The directive aims to improve network and information security by requiring Member States to implement a national cybersecurity strategy, a cybersecurity cooperation plan, a competent national authority on cybersecurity and a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). The directive also seeks to expand security breach notifications for IT incidents in relation to critical infrastructures and to create a infrastructure for confidential information sharing.

The directive raises some interesting questions about how cybersecurity is best dealt with.

Personally I am convinced cybercrime and cyberespionage incidents are rising exponentially, making it necessary for states to take action. A Washington Post article from a few days ago about Chinese espionage is illustrative of this fact. Our IT systems are often not protected adequately and we are rightfully concerned about the IT protection of critical infrastructures.

In its quest to improve cybersecurity, the Commission envisions a critical role for national cybersecurity centres. The promotion of public private partnerships, mandatory security breach notifications for critical infrastructures (which is defined quite broadly, see art. 3(8)(b)), secretive information sharing (see art. 9) and powers for cybersecurity centres to compel  security audits and information from “market operators and public administrations to provide information needed to assess the security of their networks and information systems” (art. 15), are all examples of measures proposed in the directive. Other than the proposed enforcement powers for cyber security centres, not much would change for the cybersecurity policy of the Netherlands. The directive proposes many measures that are already carried out or proposed in our own cybersecurity strategy, such as the security breach notification for critical infrastructures, governmental involvement in major cybersecurity incidents and the vigorous promotion of public private partnerships and information sharing.

The idea is that when cross-border incidents arise, cyber security centres notify other centres about the “cyber threat” to prevent more damage and possibly take coordinated action. By sharing information in public private partnerships the overall level of cybersecurity is improved and the relevant parties can respond to the incident in a coordinated manner. Because much of the IT infrastructure and important data is in private hands, cooperation from private companies is required. However, not all companies may wish to share private data, including client data, with cyber security centres and thereby automatically involve law enforcement authorities and security services. Because of the proposed establishment of a central authority for network and information security some even fear the “militarization of cyberspace”.  From a more cynical perspective, one may fear a bureaucratic toothless institution with conflicting powers and tasks overlapping those of other agencies. We could also consider other measures. For example, I support the plea (in Dutch) of Bart Schermer to actually provide the instruments to our privacy watchdog to enforce the requirement of “sufficient technological and organizational measures” to adequately protect personal data.

No panacea for cybersecurity

I believe we should be careful to place cybercrime-, cyberespionage-, cyberterrorism-, and cyberwarfare issues all under the umbrella term of “cybersecurity”. Issues relating to these different fields (of law) need attention on their own merits and may require different actions from our legislator. We should realize that cyber security centres and information sharing is no panacea for cybersecurity.

The advent of cross-border remote searches?

Last Monday (15 October 2012) our minister of Safety and Justice (under resignation), Opstelten, sent a letter (.pdf) to Parliament proposing several far reaching investigatory powers to fight cybercrime more effectively. Opstelten suggests incorperating the following investigatory methods in our Code of Criminal Procedure:

  • Remote access to computer systems and the placement of ‘technical devices’ (spyware) in computers.
  • Remote searches in computers, regardless of the location of the computer.
  • Disabling the accessibility of illegal files on computers, regardless of the location of computers.

All of these investigatory methods require an in-depth legal analysis. In this blog post I will only briefly discuss the possibility of cross-border remote searches in computers.

Cross-border remote searches

A cross-border remote search is the collection of evidence via the Internet in computers in other countries. More concretely, based on the letter, I can think of three types of cross-border remote searches that can be distinguished: 1. Using the login name and password of a suspect or hacking an account (accessed by a web portal) of a suspect in order to access and gather evidence from Gmail, Hotmail, or other cloud based online services, 2. Hacking in order to gather evidence from botnets, 3. Hacking a suspect’s personal computer in order to gather evidence remotely.

International criminal law issues

The most interesting legal problem of cross-border remote searches is whether such a search violates the international principle of territoriality and sovereignty of the country in which the data is stored. In the Netherlands we used to uphold a ‘server-orientated jurisdiction principle’, which basically meant that data in servers outside the Dutch territory could not be accessed without permission (before or after the infringement on their territory) or a treaty with the affected state.

It is not clear whether our state authorities are willing to completely let go of the principle, because when ‘the location of a server is clear’ traditional legal aid requests must be used (p. 5 of the letter). According to our minister, the location of a server is unclear in the case of services of cloud providers, because the data changes all the time from different servers at different locations. This is true, but in my opinion it is quite clear where and how evidence can be gathered from cloud service providers. I believe that with article 32(B) of the Convention on Cybercrime many states agreed that data can be gathered directly from companies on a voluntarily basis (and under their own conditions). If they don’t cooperate we can use legal aid requests. Many U.S. companies work well with law enforcement authorities and I wonder whether it is necessary to perform online remote searches in these accounts (although it might be necessary under certain circumstances). I guess the real problem is that Dutch law enforcement authorities want to apply Dutch law and collect evidence possibly located in other countries directly in a criminal case, instead of relying on the willingness of businesses or states when gathering evidence outside the Netherlands.

Dorifel-virus

Article 32 of the Convention of Cybercrime does not solve the problem of servers that are (eventually) localized at so-called “bullet proof hosting providers” who do not cooperate with law enforcement authorities’ evidence gathering activities. As we have seen with the Dorifel-virus, this could lead to disastrous consequences (governmental employees working on type writers instead of computers, because computers were infected and unsafe to use). Maybe the time has come for us to no longer accept such situations, and to view the infringement of another state’s territory as a necessary evil in certain circumstances. The proposed investigatory methods may be suitable for a situation such as Dorifel. One must point out however that being able to use hacking as a investigatory method, does not mean the suspect will be successfully prosecuted, because a state may decide not to extradite their own citizen or prosecute him or her themselves.

Rest assured, the discussion about legalizing cross-border remote searches has just started. It will take a long time (maybe years) and require democratic processes before these far reaching investigatory powers will be implemented in our Code of Criminal Procedure.

This is a cross post from LeidenLawBlog.nl

Interview in SC Online

Een paar weken geleden werd een interview (.pdf) met mij afgenomen over de plannen van Opstelten m.b.t. cybersecurity. In het interview wordt ingegaan op de meldplicht ‘security breaches’ en de toekomstige rol van het Nationaal Cyber Security Centrum (NCSC). Daarbij plaats ik vraagtekens bij sommige voorstellen en roep ik op tot debat over o.a. de meldplicht en informatieuitwisseling bij het NCSC.

Vergeet niet dat een soortgelijke discussie over dit soort maatregelen ook (of wél?) in het buitenland plaatsvinden. Nog niet zo lang geleden was veel van doen over de Amerikaanse ‘Cyber Security Act’ die meer informatie-uitwisseling mogelijk zou moeten maken en de oprichting van een instantie die dat zou moeten faciliteren. Zie bijvoorbeeld deze Q&A op de website van de Electronic Frontier Foundation. Dat wetsvoorstel heeft het uiteindelijk niet gehaald door privacyzorgen en tegenstanders van meer bureaucratie.

Seminar: Investigating Cybercrime

On September 28 2012, eLaw@Leiden in cooperation with Fox-IT is hosting a seminar about cybercrime. The seminar will take place from 13.00-16.30 hours at the Leiden Observatory in Leiden.

Aim of the seminar

The aim of the seminar is to provide expert legal and criminological knowledge to the participants about cybercrime and raise awareness about the subject matter.
During the afternoon, various cybercrime experts will answer the following questions:
–           What are cybercrimes and how are they perpetrated?
–           How are cybercrimes criminalized?
–           What obstacles arise in investigating cybercrime cases?
–           Are remote searches by law enforcement authorities necessary?
–           What is the way forward in fighting cybercrime?

Program

12.30-13.00 hours:
Registration at the Leiden Observatory
13.00-13.15 hours: Introduction
13.15-14.00 hours: Keynote speech – Prof. Susan W. Brenner
14.00-14.45 hours: Speech – Prof. Bert-Jaap Koops
14.45-15.05 hours: Coffee and tea break
15.05-15.30 hours: Live hacking demo
15.30-16.15 hours: Speech – Mr. Lodewijk van Zwieten
16.15-16.30 hours: Questions and Answers

Speakers

Our keynote speaker for the afternoon is Susan W. Brenner from the University of Dayton. Professor Brenner is the author of various books in the field of cybercrime and
cybersecurity, such as Cybercrime: Criminal Threats from Cyberspace (Praeger, 2010) and Cyberthreats: The Emerging Fault Lines of the Nation State (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Our second speaker for the day is Bert-Jaap Koops from the University of Tilburg. Professor Koops is a highly regarded legal scholar in the field of cybercrime.
Also, the national public prosecutor in the field of High Tech Crime & Telecom, Lodewijk van Zwieten, will provide a presentation in which the legal aspects of a fictional criminal case are analyzed.

Registration and fee

Participation in the seminar is free of charge and all people with an interest in the legal and criminological aspects of cybercrime are invited. Afterwards there is the possibility to have drinks and network with the participants at Café Babbels in Leiden.
Due to a limited amount of room, only 50 people can participate, including a maximum of 10 students. At September 14 2012 we will let people know if they are selected.
Participants must register by emailing seminarcybercrimeleiden2012@gmail.com,
giving:
–           Your name and affiliation (company or institution).
–           Your motivation why you want to be chosen to participate in the seminar.

Address and travel directions

The address of the Leiden Observatory is:
Oude Sterrewacht
Sterrenwachtlaan 11
2311 GW Leiden

You can find travel directions at: law.leiden.edu/visitors/sterrewacht.html
We look forward to seeing you on September 28!
eLaw@Leiden and Fox-IT

Debat over aftappen

Twee weken geleden (23 mei 2012) heb ik een seminar bijgewoond over aftappen naar
aanleiding van het WODC-onderzoek ‘het gebruik van de telefoon- en internettap in de opsporing‘. De media schreef over het rapport met name dat ‘Nederland koploper in aftappen is’ (zie bijvoorbeeld nu.nl).

Kamerleden duikelden vervolgens over elkaar heen om in de media te herhalen dat
het een schande is dat Nederlands koploper is en de notificatieplicht moet worden nagekomen. Andere onderzoeksresultaten uit het rapport zijn verder nauwelijks ter sprake gekomen. In dit bericht wil ik daar enkele opmerkingen over maken.

Telefoontap minder effectief?

Al voor het seminar begon en het rapport officieel aan het publiek beschikbaar werd
gesteld kwam de Volkskrant al met het berichtdat de ‘telefoontap steeds minder effectief
wordt
’. Dat was misschien niet zo netjes van de Volkskrant, maar het haalde wel een
belangrijke boodschap uit het rapport. Namelijk dat steeds meer mensen van andere communicatiemiddelen dan de telefoon gebruik maken en daardoor niet alle communicatie meer over de reguliere tap komt. Het is daarom niet verbazend dat
opsporingsdiensten meer van de internettap gebruik zijn gaan maken en het aantal ingezette internettaps is verdubbeld van 1704 taps in 2010 naar 3331 taps in 2011. Volgens de demissionaire regering (brief van 25 mei 2012, Kamerstukken II 2011/12, 30 517, nr. 25)is dat te verklaren door de toename van het gebruik van internettoepassingen op smartphones. De WODC-onderzoekers geven aan dat door gebrek aan capaciteit en kennis bij de politie het aantal ingezette internettaps nog relatief laag is gebleven.

De vermeende ineffectiviteit heeft niet geleid tot een daling van het aantal taps.
De traditionele telefoontap is zelfs meer ingezet dan ooit (van 22006 in 2010 naar 24718 in 2011). De telefoontap blijkt nog steeds een effectieve opsporingsmethode te zijn. In de brief van de regering wordt bevestigd dat de telefoontap vooral nuttig indirect bewijsmateriaal oplevert. Soms geeft het ook aanleiding tot een effectieve en efficiënte inzet van andere opsporingsbevoegdheden. Tijdens het seminar werd ook door een officier van justitie toegelicht dat een verdachte soms wel van 8 prepaid telefoons gebruik maakt en dat kan ook (deels) een verklaring leveren voor het hoge aantal ingezette taps. Persoonlijk kreeg ik bij het seminar de indruk (door het gebrek aan debat daarover) dat de internettap nog niet zo’n grote rol speelt in opsporingsonderzoeken. Deze opsporingsbevoegdheid is volgens mij vooral relevant in de meer high tech opsporingsonderzoeken waarbij verdachten voornamelijk via internet communiceren. Afgevraagd kan worden of dit in de toekomst gaat veranderen als steeds meer mensen voor hun communicatie vooral van internet gebruik maken. Ik denk dat het belangrijk is
daar nu al over na te denken en debat te voeren.

De overwegingen in de brief van de regering over de internettap vond ik zelf wel interessant en die wil ik hier nog kort uitlichtten. Over de internettap werd gezegd dat
inmiddels ‘geselecteerde internettoepassingen’ kunnen worden afgetapt, waardoor
niet het gehele netwerkverkeer hoeft te worden geanalyseerd. Naast dat dit efficiënter is, komt dat natuurlijk ook de privacy van de betrokkene ten goede.
Opstelten geeft nogmaals aan ‘zowel nationaal als internationaal wordt onderzocht of er aanpassing van wet- en regelgeving nodig is om ook op internet de juiste mogelijkheden te hebben voor de opsporing’. Voor het zomerreces moet de Kamer daarover worden geïnformeerd.

In mijn eigen artikel over de internettap geef ik aan dat door versleuteling het in toenemende mate lastig wordt de inhoud van communicatie via internet af te tappen. Tegelijkertijd kan met de inzet van alternatieve opsporingsmethoden veel worden bereikt. De bijzondere opsporingsbevoegdheid van direct afluisteren (artikel 126l Sv), inclusief de mogelijkheid tot het plaatsen van een keylogger, biedt mogelijk een interessant alternatief om het probleem van versleuteling te omzeilen. De opsporingsbevoegdheid mag in een woning echter slechts worden toegepast bij misdrijven waar een gevangenisstraf van 8 jaar of meer op staat. De praktische toepassing van deze opsporingsmethode is daardoor beperkt. In de Verenigde Staten wordt wellicht vaker van deze opsporingsmethode gebruik gemaakt om het probleem van versleuteling te omzeilen. Zie bijvoorbeeld ook deze analyse cryptografie-deskundige Matt Blaze over de Amerikaanse ‘wiretap report’ van 2010 (die van 2011 verschijnt hopelijk later deze maand).

Het is mij niet duidelijk geworden in hoeverre opsporingsdiensten in Nederland concreet
gehinderd worden door versleuteling. Ook ben ik benieuwd in hoeverre de nieuwe versie van het IP-protocol (IPv6) in de nabije toekomst mogelijk een probleem gaat vormen voor opsporingsdiensten. Wellicht zou de Nederlandse politie daar over wat meer kunnen zeggen naar voorbeeld van hun overzeese collega’s. In de Verenigde Staten probeert de FBI namelijk duidelijk te maken dat dit wel degelijk een probleem is. Zie daarover bijvoorbeeld dit interessante bericht op CNET.

Reactie Kamerleden

Van de reactie van Kamerleden had ik om eerlijk te zijn wel wat meer verwacht. Kamerlid El Fassed stuurde twee dagen voor het verschijnen van het rapport een viertal Kamervragen in. In mijn ogen maakt hij terecht een punt over het verschaffen van transparantie over het aantal vorderingen van gegevens bij sociale mediadiensten. Ik zie niet in hoe informatie over het aantal verzoeken tot gevolg kan hebben dat verdachten hun gedrag daarop zouden aanpassen, zoals staatssecretaris Teeven eerder heeft aangegeven.

Daarnaast stelt El Fassed de vraag of het niet verstandig zou zijn of voor het aftappen
van telefoons en sociale media door opsporingsautoriteiten dezelfde voorwaarden
moeten gelden. Blijkbaar is El Fassed of GroenLinks niet goed op de hoogte van de wetgeving. Sociale mediadiensten zijn (vooralsnog?) niet aftapplichtig; daar kunnen slechts gegevens worden gevorderd. Voor het vorderen van opgeslagen gegevens
(o.g.v. artikel 126ng lid 2 Sv) gelden verder dezelfde voorwaarden als voor een telecommunicatietap. Dit heb ik overigens ook uitvoerig uiteen gezet in mijn artikel over de internettap.

Persoonlijk vind ik het jammer dat een debat over de niet-aftapbaarheid van telecommunicatie en telecommunicatiediensten die zich soms aan de aftapplicht
lijken te onttrekken is uitgebleven. Wat mij betreft zijn dit ook belangrijke vragen waar over gediscussieerd moet worden.Wellicht biedt de toekomstige brief van Opstelten over
opsporingsbevoegdheden op internet hiervoor een mooie aanleiding.