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Germany Declares Hacking Tools Illegal 299

Posted by Zonk
from the hack-the-planet-leave-germans-alone dept.
dubbelj writes "Germany has updated their computer crime law to declare 'hacking tools' illegal. This will place most of the professionals in the network admin and computer security fields in a sort of legal grey area. 'The new rules tighten up the existing sanctions and prohibit any unauthorized user from disabling or circumventing computer security measures to access secure data (see the law, sections 200 and following [in German]). Manufacturing, programming, installing, or spreading software that can circumvent security measures is verboten, which means that some security scanning tools might become illegal.' We discussed a similar measure in January when Australia considered the same kind of legislation. How will this affect Linux distribution in Germany, as most standard Linux distributions come with these kind of 'hacking tools' installed by default?"
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Germany Declares Hacking Tools Illegal

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  • man ping (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:04PM (#19340869)
    ping - a hacker tool used for detecting computers connected to the internet for the purpose of breaking in to them
  • by Blahbooboo3 (874492) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:06PM (#19340899)
    Great! Well, problem solved. We can all stop patching our servers and running firewalls now! Yippee!! :D
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, we all know Linux IS a hacker tool [adequacy.org]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      But as the technically educated know, many tools that can be useful for diagnostics, troubleshooting, performance optimization, and usage monitoring can also be used for hacking. This, like many laws, will likely be arbitrarily enforced based on criteria not specified in the law.

      Knives are tools that can be used to stab people, but we do not make them illegal. If we *did* make them illegal (defining the item as "tools that can be used to stab people") then in actual practice the law will only be used to i
    • Well anyway, I am not going to phreak out about hacker tool being illegal. Funny part: For the foreseeable future, any nation without citizens having, using, and learning hacker/cracker/phreaker/... tools (with hands-on experience) is defenseless in case of war/threat. Nations will need as many phreaked crackers, cracked phreakers, 31337 draftees/recruits as they can find (including the wheelchair, gay, and grandma ones).

      In a MAD dash governments globally will make all "Hacker Tools" illegal. Zoll Gestapo will be contracted and trained by the US Government, then deployed to Russia, China, USA, France, Canada... All heidi-holes, small/large dark crevices, and generally anything that can be screwed will be looked into.

      "Hacker Tools" from telnet, ping, TFTP ... to PGP, RMON, Tripwire, C++ compilers ... eventually all technology will be confiscated and most people will be in jail where they belong. Yes, the Germany government of the EU is proving to be as bright as the government of Mississippi in the USA.

      Luddites love politics; because they are not required to know or do, anything right, and are paid anyway. Politics has become a form of welfare for the wealthy incompetent of the US, EU, Iran, Saudi, Russia, China, Egypt, India, Sudan, Mexico.... Politicians in any country are a pitiable basket of low intelligence, corrupt ethics, and fetid morals.

      US, EU, and many others are in troubled/stupid times.
      • by Mattintosh (758112) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:57PM (#19342835)

        All heidi-holes, small/large dark crevices, and generally anything that can be screwed will be looked into.


        Yeah, Heidi is such a slut.
      • The Facade of Law (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 31, 2007 @08:19PM (#19346025)
        There are 2 possibilities.

        1. The lawmakers mean well, but don't understand the technology or the implications of this law.

        2. They are deliberately transferring power from the Judicial Branch to the Executive Branch in order to appear "tough" on crime. When it's impractical to enforce a law that is broken by many people, the Executive Branch doesn't enforce it, unless they need an excuse to bust someone they don't like, or to search someone they're suspicious of. This gap between what is commonly enforced and what CAN be enforced, I like to call "The Facade of Law" as opposed to "The Rule of Law".

        As long as the masses believe they are safe and the system is just, they won't riot/revolt. "Justice" is just an illusion to provide political and economic stability to a group of social (and hence moral) animals. (In my opinion)
    • We should just make everything illegal. That way, when the government figures out that someone is a bad person, they will have a whole list of things to charge them with. What could possiblie go wrong?
    • DRM? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Digital Rights Management (ahem, excuse me, "Digital Consumer Enablement") technologies can be used to obtain private information from my system, to prevent certain parts of my system from functioning, and to install unwanted and potentially malicious executable code on my system, all without my knowledge or consent.

      Sounds to me like DRM "can be used for hacking," and is therefore now illegal in Germany.

      Keep leading the way, Germany!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by garry_g (106621)
      Well, according to German politicians and security "experts", voting machines are secure, too --- because tampering with them is illegal and forbidden!

      Any questions?

      Sometimes I wonder if politicians are descendants from a certain Golgafrincham space ship's inhabitants ...
  • German is going to be even harder to read without space bars.
  • Who is ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BosstonesOwn (794949) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:08PM (#19340925)
    Default and why is he installing hacking tools in Linux distro's ?

    On a serious note doesn't this basically make watching dvds on a linux computer illegal as well ? Sounds to me like this can be wide open for abuse much like our beloved DMCA.

    Can't RTFA since the laws are in German.
  • Lock Hacking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) <thelazyscifiauthor@gmail.com> on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:08PM (#19340939) Homepage Journal
    How are hacking tools really different from locksmith's tools?

    I certainly have found a locksmith to be very useful in very legal ways - but then again, I'm the kind of person who has key problems ;)
    • Re:Lock Hacking (Score:5, Insightful)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:20PM (#19341181) Homepage Journal
      Yes, actually. Hacking tools like nmap, ethereal, dictionary crackers (i.e., cracklib), etc. are absolutely necessary in securing a network. There is no way I could lock down a network without scanning to see what ports are open or determine the security of traffic on a network without a packet sniffer. Heck, packet sniffers are useful in determining problems in misbehaving networked applications. How could I check the security of my users' passwords without a dictionary cracker?

      Hacking tools are more like guns: make them illegal and only the criminals will have them.
      • by rlp (11898)
        Hacking tools are more like guns: make them illegal and only the criminals will have them.

        True, but not an effective argument to make to a European government.
      • by un1xl0ser (575642)

        How could I check the security of my users' passwords without a dictionary cracker?
        1) Set a strong password strength policy.
        2) Set a 6 maximum age for all passwords.
        3) Set sooner expirations in a phased roll-out to rotate passwords.
        4) Enjoy.

        It works, and it scales.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          Set the password strength policy too strong, and make them change it too frequently and the following will happen
          1. Dictionary attacks become easy because it's easy to guess how users will pick passwords to conform to "rules". For instance, if it must have 1 symbol, and 1 letter, then you can bet that those characters will be at the end or the beginning of the password. Also, if the minimum length is 8 characters, then you can bet that most passwords will be exactly 8 characters.
          2. Users will forget their pass
          • by un1xl0ser (575642)
            First off, don't make it too strong of a policy.

            1. Online dictionary attacks are highly detectable. I'd prefer not to use any platform that would easily allow for an offline dictionary attack (i.e. kerberos 4, kerberos 5 w/o pre-auth, unix passwd file w/o separate shadow, plain ldap). Even with a dictionary that favors this kind of behavior, it will still take a LONG time if you requre 8 char passwords.
            2. Not if they use it often.
            3. At least it isn't posted on the internet. That should be against the securi
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by inviolet (797804)

        Hacking tools are more like guns: make them illegal and only the criminals will have them.

        The parallel doesn't end there.

        After the end of the Civil War, southern states passed gun-control laws that made it illegal to carry guns, or sometimes even to own them. These laws had to be written in general terms: the North would not countenance* a law written specifically to disarm blacks. But the local legislatures and the police understood that they were to be enforced only against blacks. Or perhaps the law

    • Re:Lock Hacking (Score:5, Informative)

      by ushering05401 (1086795) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:20PM (#19341185) Journal
      Last time I looked into it numerous U.S. states required certification before you could legally be in possesion of certain types of locksmithing tools. These certs were incrediblly easy to obtain (basically cash and a short course), making the whole thing look like yet another set of rules designed to increase cash flow for an industry.

      From the N.C. statute:

      " 74F-2. Purpose.
      Locksmiths have the knowledge and tools to bypass or neutralize security devices in
      vehicles, homes, and businesses. The laws of this State do not protect citizens from the
      unscrupulous use and abuse of this knowledge and these tools by persons who are
      untrained or have criminal intent. Therefore, the licensing of locksmiths is necessary to
      protect public health, safety, and welfare."

      Regards.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)
      How are hacking tools really different from locksmith's tools?

      Not at all. If you are against the prohibition of network security analysis tools you must also be against the prohibition of locksmithing tools.
  • So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nick Driver (238034) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:08PM (#19340945)
    ...when will they start requiring computer professionals to have to become licensed by the govt in order to to possess and use the tools necessary for them to do their jobs?
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      Instead, they decided to just deny them the ability to do their jobs. WTG Germany! And here I thought they were on the right track, with all their environmental goodness.
    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by HoosierPeschke (887362) <hoosierpeschke@comcast.net> on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:25PM (#19341297) Homepage

      This will place most of the professionals in the network admin and computer security fields in a sort of legal grey area. 'The new rules tighten up the existing sanctions and prohibit any unauthorized user from disabling or circumventing computer security measures to access secure data (see the law, sections 200 and following [in German]).
      (Emphasis Mine)

      If I'm an admin, I'm probably authorized to test my own network's security. I hack and probe my server constantly to determine my own security. The real gray area is if I'm guilty simply because I possess these tools or if I'm unauthorized to do something with those tools.
  • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:10PM (#19340979) Homepage Journal
    Prohibition of computer safety tools opens Bundestrojaner door and gate

    May 25, 2007 (46halbe)
    The Bundestag has today the prohibition of computer safety tools invariably durchgewunken (criminal law law of change for the fight of the computer criminality, more again 202 StGB). To be punished is in particular a manufacturing, a programming, a leaving, a spreading or providing software, which is urgently necessary for the daily work of network administrators and safety experts.

    The Bundestag has today the prohibition of computer safety tools invariably durchgewunken (criminal law law of change for the fight of the computer criminality, more again 202 StGB). To be punished is in particular a manufacturing, a programming, a leaving, a spreading or providing software, which is urgently necessary for the daily work of network administrators and safety experts.

    With it the delegates acted against the express advice of the experts belonged in the committees with the consultation of the law out of science and practice. Also on the part of the InterNet economy and from the Upper House of Parliament the law change had been criticized sharply. With exception of the Party of Democratic Socialism and a lonely SPD delegate now the completely large coalition that votierte notion lots to make Germany the professional disqualification zone for computer safety experts.

    By expressed far version law becomes possession, which production and the spreading of preventive tools, with which security can be examined by computers, in Germany punishable. These tools are however essential, in order to ensure the security from computer systems to. The general prohibition of this software is to be forbidden about as helpfully as the production and the sales of hammers, because sometimes thereby also damages are accomplished.

    Andy Mueller Maguhn, speaker of the chaos computer club, commentated: "the prohibition of the possession of computer safety tools opens also for the employment of the Bundestrojaners door and gate industry and citizen systematically the possibility is taken of examining their systems adequately for security. This prohibition endangers the security of the IT location Germany."

    As the automobile industry, is examined in the computer industry the system security makes its vehicles with Crashtests safer by the controlled employment by attack programs. It will be legally no longer free of doubts possible in the future for sensitive computer systems will test whether they are safe or not.

    On the yearly congress of the federal office for security in the information technology (BSI) Minister of the Interior Schaeuble announced planned certifying "more trustworthily" to Sicherheitsdienstleister. With this step obviously the abilities and the knowledge, which are necessary for effective safety examinations of computer systems, are into which hands by yard suppliers handread out by the government are monopolized, while the independent computer safety research can be kriminalisiert as desired selectively.

    CCC speaker Mueller Maguhn in addition: "the explanations of the Minister of the Interior for computer security are pure lip-service. Here systematically the legal and organizational framework is created, in order to make citizens and enterprises defenseless opposite computer attacks, restaurant economics and also the Bundestrojaner. Safety research can take place only in an unacceptable legal gray area."
    • by Sapphon (214287) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @04:03PM (#19342905) Journal
      Prohibition of computer safety tools opens door and gate for Federal trojans*.

      May 25, 2007 (46halbe)
      The Bundestag has today waved through, unchanged, a ban again computer safety tools (Bill for the change of Criminal law in order to fight computer criminality, new 202 StGB). Chiefly targeted is the manufacturing, programming, leaving (for someone), distribution, or procurement of software, which is urgently necessary for the daily work of network administrators and safety experts.

      With this decision the delegates acted against the express advice given by experts from research and business to the committees consulting on the proposal. The law was also sharply criticised by the Internet economy sector and the Upper House of Parliament. With exception of the Party of Democratic Socialism and a lonely SPD delegate, the complete Great Coalition of the Clueless now voted to make Germany a professional disqualification zone for computer safety experts.

      Through the markedly broad scope of the law, the possession, production and distribution of preventive tools with which to examine computer security will become punishable in Germany. These tools are, however, essential in order to ensure the security of computer systems. Banning this software is about as helpful as banning the production and the sales of hammers because sometimes these are also used to cause damages.

      Andy Mueller-Maguhn, speaker of the Chaos Computer Club, commented: "banning the possession of computer safety tools leaves the door wide open for the use of Federal Trojans. Industry and citizens are systematically being robbed of the possibility of examining their systems adequately for security. This prohibition endangers the security of the German IT sector."

      As the automobile industry makes its vehicles safer with crash tests, so does the computer industry test its system security through the controlled employment of attack programs. It will in future no longer be possible be to test sensitive computer systems for security in ways that are without a doubt legal.

      At the yearly congress of the Federal Office for Security in the Information Technology (BSI), Minister of the Interior Schaeuble announced plans to certify "trustworthy" security providers. With this step, the abilities and knowledge necessary for effective safety examinations of computer systems shall apparently be monopolised by handpicked government suppliers, while the independent computer safety research can be selectively criminalised as desired.

      CCC speaker Mueller-Maguhn added: "the explanations of the Minister of the Interior for computer security are pure lip-service. A legal and organizational framework is being systematically created here in order to make citizens and enterprises defenseless against computer attacks, industrial espionage and also Federal trojans. Safety research can take place only in an unacceptable legal gray area."

      *N.B. "Bundestrojaner", which I've translated as Federal Trojans, are the programs the police/gov't use to search through people's computers remotely (newly legalised, or given greater scope, I believe)
  • IE illegal? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rasteri (634956) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:11PM (#19340987) Journal
    You can use a browser to hack poorely written web apps (some forum software springs to mind). Doesn't this effectively make all browsers illegal?
    • by arth1 (260657)
      I would expect the lawmakers to exclude software that has genuine non-contrived uses, whether it also can be used as a cracker tool.
      In other words, the web browser and telnet would be kosher despite telnet being THE most prevalent hacking tool, while it might be hard to argue with a straight face how phishing botnet software was used legally.
      • You look at the laws they created so far and you can be this sure that they thought about this? Or at least know about it?
  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xtense (1075847) <.xtense. .at. .o2.pl.> on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:11PM (#19340993) Homepage
    So how they are going to distinguish hacking tools from security software? Nmap can be used as both, and I sincerely cannot imagine securing anything without it. Next, packet loggers. Will Ethereal be banned too? It's one of the best tools IMO that gives a user the power to see exactly what he is sending or receiving, showing potential problems and vurnabilities, but it, of course, can be also exploited beyond any limits. And it's the case with all the rest of popular networking software.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Randseed (132501)
      You could make the argument that "netstat" is a hacking tool. Which, I suppose, makes the C library a hacking tool, and the C compiler a hacking tool, and the kernel... Agggggh. Make it stop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      So how they are going to distinguish hacking tools from security software?

      Finally, a question which even I am qualified to answer.

      It's simple -- who provided the tool?

      If I install a rootkit on your computer, it's a hacking tool.

      If Sony installs a rootkit on your computer, it's a perfectly legal way of enforcing their digital rights.

      In simpler terms, it's a combination of gross annual income and number of legislators purchased.

  • Outlaws (Score:5, Funny)

    by dbzero (64544) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:11PM (#19341003)
    If "hacking tools" are outlawed, only outlaws will have "hacking tools."
  • As with firearms, it's the shooter that commits a murder, not the gun. In this case, it's hackers that commit hacking, not the tool. And just as with guns, when they outlaw hacking tools, only outlaws will have them, and the new laws will just annoy the shit out of legit users.
    • by Corbets (169101)
      The irony of this comment that you may not realize is that Germans tend to be very anti-firearm. ;-) So this argument probably won't sway many up there!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by duckle (738287)
      You can take it even farther than that. Guns don't really have a positive use. No one is really hunting for survival anymore. Many hacking tools were created with sysadmins in mind. I personally have run into a situation where I either have to reinstall IRIX from scratch (licensing and all) or run john the ripper on the root password for a while. Yes, there is a way around in this case, but completely legitimate use of John the ripper saved me tons of time. I don't even want to think where I'd be without t
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ravenshrike (808508)
        Yes, because defending yourself isn't a positive thing at all. Sooo, have you put "No Guns Here" signs outside your house yet?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dan Ost (415913)
        I'm not a big guy, but when armed, I have the means to effectively defend myself and my loved ones against those who might otherwise do us harm.

        How is that not a positive use?
    • by mcrbids (148650)
      As with firearms, it's the shooter that commits a murder, not the gun. In this case, it's hackers that commit hacking, not the tool.

      Yep. Standard mantra posted various times in various forms on this page.

      But what's interesting for me is that viruses and worms, especially polymorphic ones, have the potential to commit hacking of their own accord. How long will it be until a polymorphic virus is written with a recombinant genetic algorithm (not unlike DNA) that achieves long-term viability? Somehow, such a vi
  • by Original Replica (908688) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:15PM (#19341091) Journal
    I imagine the list of tools useful only to hackers is pretty short. And I imagine that german hackers will find ways to use "legit" software to their ends.

    On another note, expect little in the way of secure software innovation out of Germany in the next few years.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Xtense (1075847)
      There is also the problem of using these "only useful to hackers" tools to evaluate your security. If this is outlawed, how can you keep yourself secure legally, if these tools are basically churned off daily, with newer and newer methods of attacking? This is basically suicide for legal safety. If this law is passed, I can actually see German government websites being hacked on a daily basis not long from now.
    • by necro2607 (771790)
      No doubt - even the most common software used by "hackers" is just as often used by totally legit network admins. nmap, ethereal, John The Ripper, and so on. Sweet, yet another blanket law slapped on, making criminals out of an even larger percentage of totally decent people.
    • by einhverfr (238914)
      Legit software, like telnet and a hex editor to exploit buffer overruns manually.

      I have never understood the desire to outlaw hacking tools. Unlike firearms, you can't make the argument that "oh, well, at least we are preventing deadly accidents in which kids accidently kill eachother." A better analogy would be outlawing bokkens because someone who is skilled with it can kill someone easily with it.

      Now, I have few problems with outlawing production of certain forms of malicious software (viruses intentio
      • Even programs that contain keyboard loggers have their uses. Most automated software testing tools use keyboard logging as part of the testing process. Viruses have their uses, as well. On a limited network, I have heard of admins using viruses that are "mutated" so they install patches without any user intervention.
  • Like banning guns (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:16PM (#19341109)
    This sounds like banning guns in a hypothetical country where there's a lot of gun violence, and people commonly wear bulletproof vests. (Note the "hypothetical" here; this is just for the sake of argument.) Suddenly, a new law banning guns is passed, and the vest-making companies can't develop new vests because they have no way of testing them.

    Brilliant.

    Another parallel: this is like making it illegal to wreck a car, whether by accident or intentionally. With a law like this, cars can't be crash-tested, and auto crash safety research comes to a stop.

    Of course, in the real world, computer simulations can be used to get around these problems. But with this new real-world law, the simulations themselves are illegal!

    • by Ironsides (739422)
      Of course, in the real world, computer simulations can be used to get around these problems.

      Not really. Simulations generally need to be verified by actual tests. No simulation is perfect as there is always something that could not be included in the simulation or was not/is not yet known about. If simulations were perfect, why would we bother to perform tests at all?
      • by Grishnakh (216268)
        Simple: because real tests cost too much. So what we do instead is just release the untested products to the marketplace and allow the consumers to test them....

        That seems to be the general trend these days anyway.
        • by Ironsides (739422)
          Only in the Computer world and Google do they do that. Others actually test their products.
  • I wonder if this will make Cain & Abel [www.oxid.it] illegal in Germany...? This software is an extremely useful "multi-tool" for any network/server administrator, and I've been using it for years to recover lost passwords, evaluate security, etc. but I imagine it is used constantly to assist with people's [sic?] questionable hacking activities.

    Of course, being in Canada, these blanket-like laws won't have any jurisdiction here, but I still wonder about what kind of effect this is going to have on sysadmins in Germa
  • at least, any language with a networking library?

    Add netcat to that as well. It's not a programming language but it's Frickin' useful for network processes.

    netcat + bzip2 + dd combine to make my favorite backup tool...
  • RMS is right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:18PM (#19341143)
    Sure, some people think he sounds paranoid...but he's right. It'll take time for things to get really bad...but they will get there, slowly.

    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html [gnu.org]
  • Well... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Crazy Taco (1083423) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:18PM (#19341149)
    This is going to stop a lot of software companies from opening up German software houses. Just trying to maintain any computer network for regular developers would probably be illegal under these rules, because a lot of network maintanence tools could be considered "hacking tools" under this definition. Without those tools, it would be prohibitive to try to support an enterprise infrastructure.
  • Hmm, to stay legal, someone will have to pull the plug on Germany.
  • So are debuggers illegal now? How about compilers? Logic analysers? I'm pretty sure Germany has extradition treaties with USA/Canada/the rest of Europe. Does that make most of us criminals?

    What about debugging by printf or cout?

    Pretty soon we'll have to be licensed members of the programmers guild. Please line up to pee in the cup and be fingerprinted for your mandatory background check. (oh, and your papers please) (does that count as a Godwin when we're talking about the Germans? :-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I'm pretty sure Germany has extradition treaties with USA/Canada/the rest of Europe. Does that make most of us criminals?
      Extradition treaties don't make one country's laws applicable in another, they allow people who commit crimes in one country to be returned to that country after fleeing to another.
  • are also hacking tools. Are they banned now?
  • http://www.police-information.co.uk/legislation/le gislationindexeng.html#G [police-information.co.uk]

    It's the intent which matters. Doesn't matter what the tool is.
     
  • Our brains... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Etherwalk (681268) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:26PM (#19341307)
    Brains are the best hacking tools of them all, and the only ones necessary--anything else can be rebuilt from scratch, or worked around. (Though it would take a while, in some cases.)

    So they've outlawed brains.

    Brilliant. =)
    • Brains are the best hacking tools of them all
      True but irrelevant, it's Germany we're talking about.
  • GCC? Excel macros? using Word to create cross-site-scripting-attack webpages? Just using IE with ActiveX enabled?
  • End of Days||Daze (Score:5, Insightful)

    by packetmon (977047) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:29PM (#19341361) Homepage
    That's humorous (in a scary way) considering the following:

    The commission communication "towards a general policy on the fight against cyber crime" [europa.eu]

    There is no agreed definition of "cyber crime". From a strictly legal point of view, it can be questioned whether there is any need for the term at all - it could be argued that "cyber space" is just a new specific instrument used to commit crimes which are not new at all. The term may thus be most interesting from an operational point of view, i.e. the operational instruments and procedures to fight against this type of crime must be developed.

    With that said, as an American, I can almost indicate any connection to me as being an illegal one and cost the German taxpayers a bucketload of money with false claims. Let's consider the following scenario.. Ping. Simple administrative tool, can also be used for DoS attacks. Suppose I start a business ... eFishSkinSales.com that sells fish skins... I find a German counterpart GermanFishSkin.com... I take their IP addressing and spoof a pingflood to my routers and send German authorities the logfiles. Would they know what a spoof is for one. How about the following... A German websurfer visits my page and does not close his browser. For the next nMinutes where n equals the amount of time he has his browser on my page, he will make repeated GET's thus resulting in a DoS attack of the lamest kind. What then. Are browsers hacking tools?

    Let's take it a step further into XSS (cross site scripting)... The browser IS THE TOOL. Should all browsers be banned now. Oh those Germans. I know... What about a German, with a shell on a server in America developing tools. Now those tools don't reside ANYWHERE in Germany then what. I would have laughed that law all the way to the bitbucket. But... You're likely dealing with e-Incompetent lawmakers driving Beamers and Benz' who care little about the advances in LIFE as a whole thanks to computing both good and bad (malicious hacking has forced companies to improve themselves).
  • What are all the script kiddies going to do now? For the love of god, won't somebody think of the children?
  • Evil Bit (Score:5, Funny)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:39PM (#19341545) Homepage Journal
    Just make sure the evil bit [wikipedia.org] is unset on your "hacking tools", and they'll be hunky-dory.
  • Cool. Germany just made computer security illegal. The real question is what will their next step be? Will they realize their mistake and revoke the law? Or, once no one can scan their own network for security breaches, will they make it worse and start outlawing software like netcat?
  • I mean...so much of "hacking" involves gathering information...and lately some of the best information is off of the google and etc...
  • I am usually quite wary when it comes to prediction, unless I can be fairly certain that I'm right. So let's take a look at the not so far future...

    "Hacking" tools are outlawed. Now, "hacking" tools usually work two ways, like pretty much everything on the internet (that's another thing our legislator just don't seem to get), i.e. they can be used to find security holes in networks.

    In other words, it's now illegal in Germany to test your network against security holes.

    This, in turn, means that, no matter wh
  • by mpapet (761907) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @02:49PM (#19341701) Homepage
    To criminalize so-called hackers.

    Most policy wonks that deal with this sector have already spread the word that computers are dangerous tools in the wrong hands. So, step 1 is to make the tools illegal. For example, "Your honor we found hacking applications wireshark installed on the defendants computer." No questions about approved uses are allowed because that makes things too complicated.

    Don't bother with legal challenges, the objective is to make computers a content delivery device. Anything else is too threatening to governments, regardless of their borders.

    Best case scenario as other posts have pointed out, the government gives out licenses that allow you to use/own "hacking" software. In the U.S., probably a process similar to getting a clearance would be required. This is happening internationally.

    Since this is the /. echo chamber, no one will do anything but whine and go back to their work/entertainment.

    Required reading for Americans unhappy with their political process: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/0 6/murphy200706?printable=true&currentPage=all [vanityfair.com]
  • This is just the usual running in place that politicians do so that they can say they've done something. I'm sad to see that it is the case in Germany, just as the US. In the end, this law will do nothing to stop the real criminals and be a potential pain for the professionals charged with thwarting said real criminals. h4x0r ftw!
  • by TopSpin (753) *
    Just read through most of the >0 posts. Admitted I read fast but usually it doesn't take much effort to pick out the posts that explain precisely how this was caused by the US. I assume it was; practically anything that lands on the evil side of the TruthDot ledger is satisfactorily explained by some US policy. Lemme go back and read so more...

  • I'll give you a certain way to tell a hacking tool apart from a security tool, after you show me the same for a power tool and a potential murder weapon.
  • Would something like ping, ethereal/wireshark, etc be considered hacking tools? Or are they more concerned with programs such as "Double Click here to launch attack on Windows Box, prebuilt hacking packages. Not really sure what hackers use, but as a system admin I hope the others aren't.
  • Bullshit law (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nukem996 (624036) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:37PM (#19342543)
    My university(in America) has the same rule for any computer connected to there network. I have always had etherape, ethereal, nmap, tcpdump, etc on my computers since I do computer repair. I decided to leave them on and just never tell anyone. Once I got a job in the CS department I noticed everyone had the same tools and really no one cared. Germany will probably do the same thing, no one will care about you having "hacking tools" until they really want you to go away, then you'll be charged for every program that can do anything that would manipulate data. Anyway shouldn't they have made cracking tools illegal?
  • It is VERY usefull for many legit things. Not even security related
    things. But it also has features that might raise eyebrows and even
    NortonAv defines it as a hacking tool.

    While I can replace the functionality easily (and have), it is great
    to have it everywhere in case I need it. Its there, it works, and its
    easy to type.

    Does this trend mean that we will have to have -sanitized- versions
    of popular tools like nc?

  • Unenforceable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sizzzzlerz (714878)
    Just like attempts to outlaw pornography, this one will fail as well. What is pornography is one person's eye is art in another. Just what is a hacking tool? Who gets to say? If it has some socially redeeming value, is it still a hacking tool? Although I don't read German, it didn't appear there were any specific programs specified in the law so I suspect this is one of those "I don't know how to define it, I just know when I see it" kind of laws.

    When will politicians ever learn? sigh...

  • Like getting a hunting license or a license to carry a firearm, maybe there should be a license to hack.

    Just a thought.
  • Wrong Approach (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:56PM (#19342829) Homepage Journal
    How about requiring any software manufacturer that sells software in the country make public a detailed log of security testing that went into their product and require citizens to be responsible for the security of their home systems? You wouldn't need to have much of a penalty for citizens, perhaps something like a traffic violation where you have to attend a class on how to secure your computer if your system is found to have been compromised and used to attack some other party?

    Back in the 90's when I was working at Data General I was on a team of people who were reading the source code to every function in the C library, operating system and utilities. For each function we wrote a document saying roughly "Here's what the function does, here are any potential side effects, here is the source code we used to make sure the function didn't break or compromise security in interesting ways." Data General was a pretty small company and yet they managed to find the resources to do this. I'm sure Microsoft or Intel would have no problem assembling a team that could do this. This would improve security of systems worldwide a lot more than some foolhardy attempt to prevent a set of applications from being developed.

  • by hurfy (735314) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @07:39PM (#19345675)
    that they outlawed Sony CDs there........

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