Carnivore Extinct!
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  1. #1
    BS, EnCE, ACE, Cellebrite 11001001's Avatar
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    Exclamation Carnivore Extinct!

    from Wired News

    FBI Tosses Carnivore to the Dogs

    WASHINGTON -- The FBI has effectively abandoned its custom-built internet surveillance technology, once known as Carnivore, designed to read e-mails and other online communications among suspected criminals, terrorists and spies, according to bureau oversight reports submitted to Congress.

    Instead, the FBI said it has switched to unspecified commercial software to eavesdrop on computer traffic during such investigations and has increasingly asked internet providers to conduct wiretaps on targeted customers on the government's behalf, reimbursing companies for their costs.

    The FBI performed only eight internet wiretaps in fiscal 2003 and five in fiscal 2002; none used the software initially called Carnivore and later renamed the DCS-1000, according to FBI documents submitted to Senate and House oversight committees. The FBI, which once said Carnivore was "far better" than commercial products, said previously it had used the technology about 25 times between 1998 and 2000.

    The FBI said it could not disclose how much it spent to produce the surveillance software it no longer uses, saying part of its budget was classified. Outside experts said the government probably spent between $6 million and $15 million.

    The congressional oversight reports were obtained last week under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act by the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, a civil liberties group that criticized the surveillance software after it was first disclosed in 2000.

    FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said the bureau moved to popular commercial wiretap software because it was less expensive and had improved in its ability to copy e-mails and other communications of a targeted internet account without affecting other subscribers.

    "We see the value in the commercially available software; we're using it more now and we're asking the internet service providers that have the capabilities to collect data in compliance with court orders," Bresson said.

    The FBI said last week it was sending back to the drawing board its $170 million computer overhaul, which was intended to give agents and analysts an instantaneous and paperless way to manage criminal and terrorism cases.

    Experts said the life span of roughly four years for the bureau's homegrown surveillance technology was similar to the shelf life of cutting-edge products in private industry.

    "It's hard to criticize the FBI trying to keep pace with technology," said James Dempsey of the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Technology. "There is just a huge amount of innovation and development going on in the private sector."

    Henry H. Perritt Jr., who led an oversight study of Carnivore in 2000 for the Justice Department, said the FBI originally built its own surveillance system because commercial tools were inadequate. Perritt, a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, said he was unaware of any commercial wiretap software that includes audit features robust enough to convince a federal judge that e-mails from innocent internet users weren't captured by mistake.

    "You'd like to have a package that supervisors within a field office and in Washington could do an audit and make sure they're using the tools compliant with the court order," Perritt said.

    The FBI laboratory division, which produced Carnivore, was headed by Donald M. Kerr, who left the FBI in August 2001 to become the CIA's chief gadget-maker as head of its science and technology directorate. Kerr told lawmakers in 2000 that Carnivore was "far better than any commercially available sniffer."
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  2. #2
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    So.. guesses as to the new product? Snort? ISS? Ethereal? tcpdump?
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  3. #3
    AO Ancient: Team Leader
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    LOL Ms. M......

    I never understood the thought process of whoever came up with Carnivoure under current CPU speed, memory and storage space. The thought that you could capture all traffic, search it and report on it for all traffic crossing the internet within the USA is preposterous with current technology.... And that assumes that everything goes in clear... How many SSL connections are running at any given moment for traffic passing through the USA? How do they know that everyone using them is only doing their banking?

    I think you'll find that what they have done is realized the futility of the system under current technological limitations and have gone to targeted eavesdropping... So you might be right, Ethereal will be the tool of choice....
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  4. #4
    AFLAAACKKK!!
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    The hardware capabilities (CPU speed, ram, fsb, storage, etc) of the government and the capabilities of the public are very different, with the publics being inferior...

    But even with the enhanced hardware capabilities that the government has, it does still seem like a helpless effort... It just can't be done, but then again... what about echelon ...
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  5. #5
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    I thought Echelon was run by the NSA not the FBI (which ran Carnivore). And there is still, of course, altivore. (Anyone actually play with that one?)
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  6. #6
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Nah Tiger, knowing the government's ability to stay away from Linux or open source, it's probably some program that masks Ethereal's engine but really is Ethereal through a polished interface, and cost 1 million per copy.

    //EDIT after The Duck posted...

    CPU speed isn't an issue, it's the technology to collect it and then even CPU speeds of very fast computers would take too long to process blind taps. Sure the GOV has super computers but very little of those are used on espionage. They have better uses. In most cases they use PCs bought right of the shelf.
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  7. #7
    AFLAAACKKK!!
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    What kind of technology are you talking about then? Just the amount of bandwidth that would be needed or...?
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  8. #8
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    The speed and ability of network interface cards. Their chip limitations, their software at Level 2 and below etc. It would take like 10 million NICs all tied together somehow processing every single packets at bandwidths in the 16 zero range. Then built up to the presentation layers for analysis by a cpu for each NIC. I pulled those number sout of my ass but that is my point.
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  9. #9
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
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    AFAIK, the carnivore system could only be used with a court order. They could only capture suspect data.

    I don't know about the rest of you... but I only "retire" a system when I have something better.

    With the passing of the USA patriot act... they no longer needed to use the carnivore system.
    The carnivore system still required a court order.... which is just a pain in the ass for them.

    So, they get a new system which they can use with the patriot act. Now they can easedrop wherever they want to find suspicious activity and suspects. Rather than easedrop after they already have a suspect in sights.

    Now, this is all just speculation. I could be way off the map. But if I were them... I'd create less work for myself (not using carnivore and all the paperwork that goes with it) and use something a bit more productive.
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  10. #10
    AOs Resident Troll
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    I don't know about the rest of you... but I only "retire" a system when I have something better.
    Excellent point!!!!

    So, they get a new system which they can use with the patriot act. Now they can easedrop wherever they want to find suspicious activity and suspects. Rather than easedrop after they already have a suspect in sights.
    Thats just scary......


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