22 Dec GCHQ accused of disproportionate and illegal hacking
In a case brought by Privacy International and seven other internet service providers, GCHQ has recently admitted that it has “persistently” hacked a wide range of devices, accessing microphones, cameras, photography, and private documentation without users’ permission or knowledge.
The admission occurred at a security tribunal where GCHQ had been summoned to answer allegations that it had carried out the hacking under “thematic” warrants that enable them to bypass privacy safeguards.
GCHQ is the government station tasked with monitoring the UK’s cyber connections and infrastructure in order to protect the nation from threats. The organisation depends on degrees of secrecy and monitoring of communication in order to accurately and efficiently carry out its protection duties. By using “thematic” warrants that “do not name individuals or addresses but rely on generalised categories of people or places”, however, it has been able to ignore privacy safeguards. Its public admission of CNE (computer network exploitation, or hacking) represents a serious breach of the right to privacy both within the UK and overseas.
The claim includes accusations of both persistent and non-persistent monitoring techniques, when listening software is left on targeted devices and when monitoring software closes with each internet session respectively. Based on these invasive monitoring techniques, GCHQ has been able to survey, copy, and even make alterations to private data on targeted devices, highlighting the growing importance for proper cyber security in today’s digital climate.
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The IPT (Investigatory Powers Tribunal) is currently hearing the case. Counsel for Privacy International Ben Jaffey has told the tribunal: “The [legal] regime governing CNE … remains disproportionate. … Given the high potential level of intrusiveness, including over large numbers of innocent persons, there are inadequate safeguards and limitations.”
In its defence, lawyers for GCHQ have argued that its activities are “proportionate”, dismissing Privacy International’s claims as an inaccurate description of their CNE activities. Director of cyber security at GCHQ Ciaran Martin has said: “[We] never carry out reckless and irresponsible CNE operations … GCHQ’s processes for CNE include an expert risk assessment panel.” The case continues.
To guarantee the security of your data against illegal hacking, regardless of location and device, get in touch with Tricostar today by calling +44 (0)208 292 2660 or contact us here.