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Cheap software led to police hack
Photo: DPA

Cheap software led to police hack

Published: 16 Jul 2011 11:01 GMT+02:00
Updated: 16 Jul 2011 11:01 GMT+02:00

A leaked government report has revealed that police servers were only protected by cheap software, making a recent hack on databases much easier. Police were forced to shut down several servers with data on serious criminals.

This month's attack on police servers by the "No Name Crew" hackers had much more serious consequences than previously thought, according to a report in news magazine Focus.

According to the magazine, the government's newly founded cyber-defence department, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) reported internally on Friday that every single server of the police's spy programme "Patras" had been infiltrated by hackers.

Patras is used to locate serious criminals and terrorist suspects by gathering information from GPS systems in cars and mobile phones. It is used by both state and federal police forces, as well as Germany's customs officers.

Following the cyber-attack, which took place earlier this month, all of the relevant servers had to be shut down to prevent more data being stolen.

According to the internal BSI report to the German interior ministry, the "No Name Crew" even hacked the central database of the federal police, in Swisstal-Heimerzheim in North Rhine-Westphalia.

This could lead to hundreds of confidential police investigations appearing on the internet. "That is pretty much the worst thing that could happen," an anonymous security officer told Focus.

The report said the hack came about because the police did not adequately protect its servers, using what was described as "cheap protection software." It also said that "fundamental security measures" such as "dealing with passwords" had been ignored.

The No Name Crew had previously hacked the servers of the far-right National Democratic Party and published sensitive information including a list of its donors.

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Your comments about this article

11:27 July 16, 2011 by harcourt
Nice to see that the police are saving us money. However I think in this case it is a little short-sighted !!
20:13 July 16, 2011 by DrStrangelove
If you think you can rely on some commercial software, be it cheap or expensive, for protection of your servers, then you clearly have no clue about your job. Protection of networks has to be done manually, at the level of ips, ports, files and folders.

The bit of "improper dealing with passwords" fits the picture of cluelessness. Way to go, German police!

Now let's hear german-guardian on how the German police have indeed acted brilliantly in this affair.
23:55 July 16, 2011 by pepsionice
So let me ask the questions. First, the guy running your IT protection business....same guy that you hired from ten years ago....right? You paid for how many additional training courses over the average year for your IT department (I'm guessing none). New blood brought into the IT department every year or two (I'm guessing not)? The top ten policemen in the organization.....do they even have firewalls or virus-checkers on their laptops at home?

The nice thing? These punks were proud of finding this. The Russian mafia guys who likely got into your system last year? They didn't want to leave any evidence of what they'd found or taken.
04:50 July 17, 2011 by Asgarli
There is indeed a big shortage in qualified professionals in Germany.
11:25 July 17, 2011 by Englishted
@DrStrangelove

So you don't like him either ,we should start whatever is opposite of a fan club.
12:30 July 17, 2011 by harcourt
Englishted: You've just got another member !!
15:13 July 17, 2011 by DrStrangelove
Englishted: Where can I get the T-shirt?

Seriously though, I wish there was a way to educate people like him, rather than get into stupid arguments with them.

There is nothing wrong with being proud of one's national heritage and identity - I think it is a natural impulse for most, or at least many of us. However, we should not allow this impulse to cloud our thinking and perception of reality.

As an expat German who has lived in Canada for the last 10 years, I can recommend immersing yourself into a different culture for a while. It quite naturally gives you a new and better perspective of your own nation's strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of others. Canada has a relaxed and tolerant atmosphere, a very good balance of work and life and a mostly optimistic outlook that you don't find in Germany. On the other hand, Germany has a level of professionalism (notwithstanding the topic of the current story - LOL) that I sometimes miss in my workplace here.

So, german-guardian, if you read this, please consider one friendly piece of advice: Live in another country for a while, and try to take in your surroundings with an open mind.
17:08 July 17, 2011 by harcourt
Dr Strangelove you are absolutely right. The old saying travel broadens the mind is so true. But one should be careful not to see ones home country through rose tinted spectacles. When you've been away for some time, things can change back home and one can get a bit of a shock on return, to live ( not to visit)
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