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05 January 2009, 14:17

Anti-malware and Police surveillance

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In response to the newly announce government plans to allow the Police warrant-free powers to spy on the PCs of private UK users Graham Cluely of UK based security company Sophos says that his companies products are designed to guard against all malware and that if they come across any spyware from the British police, then Sophos will add detection for it.

In a survey of over a dozen leading security software providers conducted by cnet in July of 2007, all the respondents, except Microsoft, McAfee and Trend Micro, stated that they had never been contacted by any government agency and that their products were designed to stop all forms of spy and malware, including any originating from the police or other government agencies. McAfee, Microsoft and Trend Micro stated that their policy was not to comment when asked if they had been involved in discussions with law enforcement.

However most of these companies say, not surprsingly, that they endeavour to comply with the law of any country where their products are for sale, which implies that future legislation could force these companies to open a back door to police surveillance software. Checkpoint said "We do have a policy whereby legal, legitimate software programs from any third-party vendor can be 'whitelisted' from detection upon request. We would afford law enforcement the same courtesy."

It's ironic that, at the same time that authorities world-wide are taking steps to further erode civil liberties in the name of increased security against terrorism, cryptologists and security companies continue to strive to produce improved security products, which are available to the innocent public and the potential terrorists alike. At the CES in Las Vegas, security specialist Yoggie has just announced a new Online Anonymity feature for its award-winning miniature security computers. Yoggie say that with a single mouse click, surfers can completely 'cloak' their Web browsing, making it virtually impossible for anyone to see or track the user's data, identify their computer, or locate their country of operation. The new Online Anonymity feature, based on the open source Tor (The Onion Router) technology, protects the user from spying by anyone in the local network, from Web sites they visit and even from the user's ISP, or any other authority that might employ tracking and spy programs.


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