Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Swiss coder publicises government spy Trojan

'MegaPanzer' made public on GPL license no less.

Article comments

A software engineer who created Trojans for the Swiss authorities to intercept Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone calls has published the source code to his programs in order to draw attention to the surveillance threat posed by such software.

As reported by Techworld in October 2006, Ruben Unteregger's ex-employer, ERA IT Solutions, tasked him with writing a 'white' Trojan capable of intercepting, recording and uploading Skype and other VoIP calls - software subsequently used by the Swiss Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (UVEK).

The technique of recording voice calls as MP3 files in situ neatly sidestepped Skype's main anti-wiretapping feature, namely its use of strong, proprietary encryption. However, it did first require that the program had to somehow find its way on to the monitored individual's PC using Trojan-like software subterfuge.

Now Unteregger has explained in an interview why he has made available the source code and compiled binary to two of his 'Bundestrojaner', or government Trojans, dubbed 'MiniPanzer' and 'MegaPanzer' (shorn only of some of their backdoor and firewall-bypassing code) under the GPL license.

"There won't be problems about copyright, because ERA IT Solutions let me keep it," says Unteregger in a translated interview. "The code will be published, it will get analysed as soon as the binaries got uploaded, signature patterns will be created by anti-virus companies, the malware will be detected, blocked and deleted, if it tries to infect a system."

Unteregger's motivation in making public the source code of his appears to be to draw attention to the insecurity of programs such as Skype, while staying on the right side of a confidentiality agreement he signed with ERA on which companies and agencies have been using his software. Publishing the code will also render its use redundant by security agencies.

An accompanying video showing how Trojans can be used to steal from online banks has been removed from the websites on which it was published, apparently to allay security concerns.

Trojan-based snooping of one sort or another is probably common among European police, with reports of such activities emerging in Germany and Austria in recent times. What is less clear-cut is the legality of such intrusive surveillance given the malware-like techniques necessary to infect the PCs of those being watched.


More from Techworld

More relevant IT news


Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *