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Espionage In Icelandic Parliament 274

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-it's-just-the-porn-server dept.
bumburumbi writes "An unauthorised computer, apparently running encrypted software, was found hidden inside an unoccupied office in the Icelandic Parliament, Althingi, connected to the internal network. According to the Reykjavik Grapevine article, serial numbers had been removed and no fingerprints were found. The office had been used by substitute MPs from the Independence Party and The Movement, the Parliamentary group of Birgitta Jonsdottir, whose Twiiter account was recently subpoenaed by US authorities. The Icelandic daily Morgunbladid, under the editorship of Mr David Oddsson, former Prime Minister and Central Bank chief, has suggested that this might be an operation run by Wikileaks. The reporter for the Reykjavik Grapevine, Mr Paul Nikolov is a former substitute MP, having taken seat in Parliament in 2007 and 2008."
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Espionage In Icelandic Parliament

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  • Rogue servers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:37PM (#34947100) Homepage Journal

    I love reading the stories posted by the readership about all of the odd systems found stuck in closets and under desks which nobody knows what are doing.

    Specifically... does anyone have any about Wall Street or Congress?

  • Run by wikileaks ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:38PM (#34947106) Homepage Journal
    An iceland parlementarian's twitter account subpoenaed by u.s. government, yet, the operation to spy on the iceland government, for some godfrigging reason, is proposed to be the operation by wikileaks ?

    can anyone provide any actual logic for this proposition ?
    • Because the US government would just have said "bend over" and Jonsdottir would have gladly said "yes master".

      So it has to be someone who doesn't have the same easy access to her privates... I mean private information.

    • Davið Oddson is, to put it objectively, a colorful and polarizing figure. If Iceland had a Fox News, he'd probably be employed there.

    • can anyone provide any actual logic for this proposition ?

      Julian Assange had unprotected sex with a woman. Q.E.D.

    • by cHiphead (17854) on Friday January 21, 2011 @12:45AM (#34948752)

      "They" are trying to turn wikileaks into the new imaginary Al Qaeda boogeyman.

  • by AceCaseOR (594637) <alexander.case@g ... minus physicist> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:39PM (#34947108) Homepage Journal
    So, Wikileaks is SPECTRE now?
  • by presspass (1770650) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:40PM (#34947122)

    The Icelandic daily Morgunbladid, under the editorship of Mr David Oddsson, former Prime Minister and Central Bank chief, has suggested that this might be an operation run by Wikileaks.

    If nothing else, wikileaks will be valuable to governments as a convenient scapegoat.

    --

    pass

    • Yup. It could just as easily have been left there by the former third assistant clerk to the Finance Minister, who got sacked when Iceland's banking system collapsed, and who was too polite to take his severance pay in used hardware.

    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @09:24PM (#34947450) Journal

      When, exactly, has Wikileaks actively gathered evidence? Oh, never. Wikileaks just waits for others to the gathering, they just do the publishing. Next, they will be blaming global warming on Wikileaks.

      • they will be blaming global warming on Wikileaks.
        Haven't you noticed all the hot air Wikileaks has been causing?
      • by ScentCone (795499)
        When, exactly, has Wikileaks actively gathered evidence?

        You'll recall that the guy who says he was chatting with Manning (of the quarter million stolen US State Department documents) said that Wikileaks actually made special arrangements for Manning. Worked actively with Manning to collect and stash all of that stuff. Whether, or to what degree, that's true is one of the things they (the DoD prosecutors) are still digging through.
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Next, they will be blaming global warming on Wikileaks.

        Well, they ARE wasting a lot of energy with all of these spy servers they leave on around the clock in parliament buildings.

      • by bug (8519) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:25PM (#34947974)
        There's a strong possibility that you're mistaken in your assertions there. There has been some reporting in the press that Wikileaks activists have actively eavesdropped on data by running one or more rogue Tor servers:
        http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=all#ixzz0pWdlAepe [newyorker.com]
        There has also been reporting as recently as today that Wikileaks actively gathered data from peer-to-peer file sharing networks:
        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-20/wikileaks-may-have-exploited-music-photo-networks-to-get-classified-data.html [bloomberg.com]
        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          I'm not sure if running a Tor server or gathering via p2p would be "active" in the same sense I would normally consider "active". This is still on the back side, taking what has already been taken. This is different than doing the initial taking. To do that, you have to be on the inside.

          I get what you are saying, but to be clear, when I say "active", I am referring to the initial step of getting the info. Going from "secure" to "no longer secure". After that point, it is mainly courier duty.

          Just as on

      • by Zorque (894011)

        Except that global warming doesn't exist!

        I don't actually believe that, but it wouldn't be a proper Slashdot discussion without somebody saying it.

      • by nomadic (141991)
        Wikileaks just waits for others to the gathering, they just do the publishing

        Don't forget the taking-all-the-credit part, that takes effort.
    • They've no evidence whatsoever :

      TFA: "The computer was disconnected and taken to the police" and "it is possible police bungled the operation and did not clone the hard drive before disconnecting it"

      They might have at least sniffed the network to see what, if anything, the machine was sending and where it was sending it to.

    • by Jonah Hex (651948)

      Can you show me on the doll where Wikileaks touched you?

      HEX

    • by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:02PM (#34947784)

      former Prime Minister and Central Bank chief, has suggested that this might be an operation run by Wikileaks.

            This, brought to you by the mind that collapsed Iceland's economy.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      Is Wikileaks trying to obtain the lyrics to the next Bjork single? I mean, what does one spy on in Iceland? Geothermal vents in compromising positions?

    • by murdocj (543661)
      Just as the United States & Israel are convenient scapegoats. Logic doesn't enter in to it, does it?
  • if it was just an old sysadmin's personal download machine. Given that most computers do not have serial numbers but the ones procurement gives them, it could have been a system that was decommissioned and the sticker peeled off. I've got a couple of those myself although they're not hooked up to my companies' gigabit internet service.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Given that most computers do not have serial numbers but the ones procurement gives them, it could have been a system that was decommissioned and the sticker peeled off.

      I haven't seen a single computer without a factory serial number except for the ones I built myself.

  • An unauthorized computer, apparently running encrypted software, ...

    Well, object code is cryptic but it's not encrypted.

    • Perhaps they are referring to some sort of fully homomorphic cryptosystem, although the publicly known systems are not exactly practical (it would just be foolish to deploy a classified system here, so I doubt this is the case; the point is that it is possible to encrypt software).
      • If it's actually related to Wikileaks, as opposed to a US-or-Euro-government spook job, it's more likely to be a Tor node. For that matter, even if it is a CIA plant, it could well be a Tor node, and similarly, if it's a fake scapegoat machine that the former bank minister is using to cover his tracks, a Tor node would be a good choice.

  • by scdeimos (632778) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:52PM (#34947186)
    From TFA:

    Stephen Christian, a computer expert at Oxymap ehf, told the Grapevine that ... "Information written to disk can be recovered by experts even after being overwritten several times unless you let the computer run for a few hours constantly 'covering up' its information. Computer hackers know this."

    I laugh whenever I see comments like this. Lest we forget that nobody ever accepted The Great Zero Challenge [hostjury.com], let alone beat it.

    • Nobody accepted it because it was stupid, and probably just a publicity stunt for the people running it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by norpy (1277318)
      I like how the article is written in a condescending tone telling you about "hacker myths" and so on, then pulls out the "data can be recovered after being overwritten many times" myth as a fact.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I laugh whenever I see comments like this. Lest we forget that nobody ever accepted The Great Zero Challenge [hostjury.com], let alone beat it.

      Hahaha, probably because the challenge only offers a reward of $40 USD and they won't let you disassemble the drive, which is a requirement for any of the wiped-data-recovery papers/theories floating around.

      • by snowgirl (978879)

        Apparently, they will allow a properly incorporated company in data recovery or intelligence agency to disassemble the drive, and hold it for 30 days.

        However, as you noted, the challenge is only worth $40, you pay postage to have it delivered, and there is a $60 deposit...

        It rather sounds like a really bad scam... but then, it's too stupid to even be logically possible as a scam, so it obviously can't be a scam.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Does unplugging the drive cables from the circuit board count as disassembly? Because you don't really need to have physical access to the inside of the drive, but merely access to the raw analog output of the drive heads on a given track (and, ideally, fractional tracks, which you should be able to fudge by rapidly stepping the drive heads one way and then the other).

      • The fact that you can't disassemble the drive is just plain stupid. You would need to read the platters with some higher tech gear that whats in the drive to see if there is any residual information left on it. Im not sure if its been done before but I see no reason its not physically impossible, maybe just too expensive and their are cheaper ways to get intelligence info like bribing a corrupt individual and killing them if they ever seem like they may give up what you are doing.
    • The Great Zero Challenge rules specifically exclude disassembly of the drive; all the bit-recovery mechanisms discussed in the literature require you to disassemble the drive and use custom heads to scan the surface magnetism map.

      I.e., the contest is totally missing the point on what data recovery pros (i.e., the NSA and so forth) said they'd do if they had to scan disks to recover overwritten data.

      It's hard to think of a less useful contest.

    • by ladadadada (454328) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:23PM (#34947948) Homepage

      There are four problems with the Great Zero Challenge that I could identify at a glance:

      1. No incentive. The prize is $40. Data recovery companies charge tens of thousands to recover a drive. (Depending on how hard it is.)
      2. No disassembly. Any technique that "reads residual magnetism" is going to require custom read heads and access to the platters.
      3. No longer running. The challenge ended in January 2009 and only ran for one year. That blog post is from September 2008.
      4. Full disclosure. This is a show-stopper. Data recovery companies guard their secret methods very closely. Those secrets are their only competitive advantage. Telling everyone how they did it for $40 ? I don't think so.

      In contrast, the James Randi Paranormal Challenge has a $1,000,000 prize, only has rules that disallow cheating, has been running since 1964 and is still running. The fact that no one has passed the preliminary stage of that challenge means something

      • by snowgirl (978879)

        Disassembly was specifically permitted to incorporated businesses, and intelligence agencies.

        However, the rest of your argument is not any more weak because they suddenly started permitted disassembly. In fact, the entire point of "can't disassemble the drive" is practically moot compared to the other reasons.

      • Well, I bothered to read the post, so:

        1. No incentive. The prize is $40. Data recovery companies charge tens of thousands to recover a drive. (Depending on how hard it is.)

        The amount of gained business for a successful recovery would be worth considerably more than $40. It's stupid to even offer the $40.

        2. No disassembly. Any technique that "reads residual magnetism" is going to require custom read heads and access to the platters.

        It says right there that if you're a qualified data recovery company or a sp

    • "I laugh whenever I see comments like this. Lest we forget that nobody ever accepted The Great Zero Challenge [hostjury.com], let alone beat it."

      While the statement itself is incorrect if taken as if it was accurate, traditionally when you delete a file on a partition table it does not delete the file only deletes the first bit of the filename from the file allocation table.

      This is what allowed old DOS utilities like undelete or norton undelete to function. Some days I do miss the old days since it seems n

      • by snowgirl (978879)

        "I laugh whenever I see comments like this. Lest we forget that nobody ever accepted The Great Zero Challenge [hostjury.com], let alone beat it."

        While the statement itself is incorrect if taken as if it was accurate, traditionally when you delete a file on a partition table it does not delete the file only deletes the first bit of the filename from the file allocation table.

        This is what allowed old DOS utilities like undelete or norton undelete to function. Some days I do miss the old days since it seems no one develops quality tools anymore for win XP +.

        You're messing up terms. The "partition table" is in the master boot sector (and yes, there's an additional one at the start of an extended partition table, I know.) The partition table is irrelevant to the way in which files are stored.

        What deleting files in DOS and on disks all the way up to FAT32 did was change the first byte of the filename to a known value, which represented a "deleted file". This filename was actually stored directly in the directory listing, not in the file allocation table. The

        • I understand what you are saying but quality tools do matter.

          I've been annoyed at the crap level of tools for XP and onward for a long time. While Fat was crap disk defragmenting tools for NTFS are still horrid and tedious.

          To say that quality tools don't matter is moronic. You as always do the nerd thing and focus on just what I said not rather what was implied in the general sense.

          • by snowgirl (978879)

            I've been annoyed at the crap level of tools for XP and onward for a long time. While Fat was crap disk defragmenting tools for NTFS are still horrid and tedious.

            That's because NTFS does not have the same fragmentation problems that FAT does, and in particular only has fragmentation problems in a very small set of circumstances that average users will not come across.

            To say that quality tools don't matter is moronic. You as always do the nerd thing and focus on just what I said not rather what was implied in the general sense.

            And you're doing the idiot thing of not actually reading what I actually wrote. I am not against quality tools, rather "undelete" was never a quality tool.

            It's like you're calling for a return to sticks and rocks because you can't find a good stick and/or rock. We don't need that shit anymore.

            So, agai

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Gee, let's see. Who would stand to gain by smearing Wikileaks?

    Governments, large financial institutions, covert military operations, corrupt diplomats, racketeers... Who among such entities does not have the necessary resources to set up such a smear?

    Meanwhile, this "encrypted" system sure sounds like a load of bollocks. It's all, like, secret. Wow. Yet how convenient, considering that it was "hidden", that it showed up exactly where and when it did.
    • It's more like the Kennedy assassination - who wouldn't gain by smearing Wikileaks here? Even Wikileaks themselves* might have planted it as a diversion as opposed to surreptitiously leaving it behind. Or maybe it's a Murder on the Orient Express plot, where either a whole bunch of players conspired together to do it, or else some stranger walked in the door, planted it, and walked out unseen.

      *Yes, I do reject any of the conspiracy suggestions that say Kennedy himself was behind it, except the one on Red

  • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:59PM (#34947244) Journal

    Let's see, there are two possibilities that come to mind since this was done in the proximity of the female Icelandic MP with connection to wikileaks:

    1. The member of parliament who is a friend of wikileaks is in on this and wikileaks conducted the spying as is being ignorantly claimed
    2. Agents on behalf of the US government conducted this in order to spy on the icelandic MP and others nearby because of her connection to wikileaks

    Obviously we can throw out #1 because it does not at all fit with wikileaks modus operandi and cannot be carried out by their infrastructure. They're set up to anonymously accept documents and disseminate them, they're not spies. Moreover the icelandic MP in question would be risking much to do this only to access documents she probably already has access to.

    So #2 becomes the most obvious culprit.

    • by TheEyes (1686556) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @09:28PM (#34947470)

      Well, the other possibility is that this is a backup Wikileaks server, running from within the Icelandic parliament.

      • by bloodhawk (813939)
        a single server? and they went to the trouble of ensuring the removal of fingerprints, serial numbers and encryption? I am not a huge fan of wikileaks but this really doesn't seem to fit in at all with how they operate. However it fits in perfectly with more nefarious and far less moral organisations such as the US government.
    • Let's see, there are two possibilities that come to mind since this was done in the proximity of the female Icelandic MP with connection to wikileaks:

      1. The member of parliament who is a friend of wikileaks is in on this and wikileaks conducted the spying as is being ignorantly claimed
      2. Agents on behalf of the US government conducted this in order to spy on the icelandic MP and others nearby because of her connection to wikileaks

      Obviously we can throw out #1 because it does not at all fit with wikileaks modus operandi and cannot be carried out by their infrastructure. They're set up to anonymously accept documents and disseminate them, they're not spies. Moreover the icelandic MP in question would be risking much to do this only to access documents she probably already has access to.

      So #2 becomes the most obvious culprit.

      In this case, the most obvious culprit is the fallacy of your argument’s logic.

    • by snowgirl (978879) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @11:06PM (#34948202) Journal

      So #2 becomes the most obvious culprit.

      Fallacy of the false dichotomy. There are more than just two possibilities here.

    • by Jahava (946858)

      Let's see, there are two possibilities that come to mind since this was done in the proximity of the female Icelandic MP with connection to wikileaks:

      1. The member of parliament who is a friend of wikileaks is in on this and wikileaks conducted the spying as is being ignorantly claimed
      2. Agents on behalf of the US government conducted this in order to spy on the icelandic MP and others nearby because of her connection to wikileaks

      Obviously we can throw out #1 because it does not at all fit with wikileaks modus operandi and cannot be carried out by their infrastructure. They're set up to anonymously accept documents and disseminate them, they're not spies. Moreover the icelandic MP in question would be risking much to do this only to access documents she probably already has access to.

      So #2 becomes the most obvious culprit.

      Or, of course, agents of any country that stands to gain from espionage conducted this in order to spy on someone in Iceland.

  • They found my CS 1.3 server!
  • TrueCrypt (Score:4, Informative)

    by ironicsky (569792) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @09:10PM (#34947330) Journal
    It is entirely possible to encrypt a hard drive that once powered down the data is "lost". It's called TrueCrypt System Disk Encryption. Where the decrypter is a boot loader and the decrypted key gets stores in ram. Power off, no more key. The key is needed again to unlock the drive after reboot. To take it to the next level one would put an encrypted file container inside the encrypted system that requires a USB key to unlock. It would take a very long time to decrypt both keys without some very very heavy computing power
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There's also the chance that authorities moved the computer without powering it down. [wiebetech.com]

      • Re:TrueCrypt (Score:5, Interesting)

        by snowgirl (978879) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @11:33PM (#34948370) Journal

        I am now officially setting up a background program for my two master servers to ping each other, and should the ping ever fail, they will auto shutdown...

        $paranoia++

      • by DavidTC (10147)

        That seems easy enough to subvert if you know it exists. Just watch for the unplugging of a keyboard, mouse, monitor, or network, throw up a screen demanding a password, and shut down if it's not given.

        It's a neat trick, but if Full Disk Encryption products can't deal with this soon, they're pretty stupid.

  • This happened one year ago (see article) and what interesting data could one possibly hope to find within the walls of the Icelandic Parliament? And even if there was any, there are easier ways of looking for it than gaining entry to the offices and leaving a laptop there. It's even more silly to think Wikileaks were involved.
  • This reveals more about David Oddsson than Wikileaks. I bet Mr. Oddsson has some friends who were very deservedly burned by the Icelandic banking scandal that Wikileaks broke the story on. And, of course, that means Wikileaks must be at fault for anything else wrong involving spying or information leakage. It can't possibly be because Mr. Oddsson's friends are nasty people who deserve long jail sentences, no...

    It's like a domestic abuse case where the abused refuses to implicate the abuser in anything th

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2011 @09:33PM (#34947532)

    So a strange computer was found in a government office...
    ... which may have been used by someone affliated with an org that discloses government secrets...
    ... as insinuated by a newspaper edited by the former head of said government...
    ... as reported by someone who may also have had access to this office previously, as a government official.

    Is this representative of the kind of media bias Iceland has to deal with? Don't get me wrong, it's not like any country has it better, but is it always so blatantly obvious?

  • Call the MAFIAA, they've been searching for that for ages! If that's true, the money worries of Iceland are at an end, they'll happily pay big bucks for such a technology!

    Snideness aside, I guess I needn't mention that no computer on this planet is able to run "encrypted software". The OS has to be able to load the executable, hence it has to conform to standard. CPUs are only able to run instructions that match their instruction set, so that has to conform to that standard. It may be runtime encrypted, but

  • It would be funny if it turned out that this is just some licensing server.

  • As a side note a spokesman from CCP hf announced today that the EVE Online Tranquility server has gone offline unexpectedly and they are working on the problem...

    (PS: Yes I know EVE is hosted from London, but I couldn't resist!)

  • ...Twiiter [sic] account was recently subpoenaed...

    I don't use it, but wouldn't one just "follow" someone on Twitter to see everything they "tweet"?

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