Jailed for using a “nonstandard” browser?

Via DME: compare and contrast the following reports, which both apparently relate to the same event:


Tsunami fund ‘hacking’ is probed

An attempt to hack into the website of the Disasters and Emergency Committee (DEC) that was set up after the Asian tsunami, is being investigated.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Computer Crime Unit have begun an inquiry after BT blocked the attempt on New Year’s Eve.

A 28-year-old man from east London was arrested and released on bail in connection with alleged offences.

Police are examining computer equipment seized during a search.

The bailed man, who was arrested under the Computer Misuse Act at an address in London’s Bishopsgate on Thursday, is due to return to a police station in February.

A spokesman for the Met said the DEC website continued to be secure and the systems in place meant the attempted breach was identified and blocked very quickly.

The DEC, which estimates to raise £200m to help tsunami victims, said it was alerted by BT staff.

Chief executive Brendan Gormley reassured the public that “every penny” donated over the internet was safe and had reached the DEC.



A Londonder made a tsnuami-relief donation using lynx — a text-based browser used by the blind, Unix-users and others — on Sun’s Solaris operating system. The site-operator decided that this “unusual” event in the system log indicated a hack-attempt, and the police broke down the donor’s door and arrested him. From a mailing list:

For donating to a Tsunami appeal using Lynx on Solaris 10. BT [British Telecom] who run the donation management system misread an access log and saw hmm thats a non standard browser not identifying it’s type and it’s doing strange things. Trace that IP. Arrest that hacker.

Armed police, a van, a police cell and national news later the police have gone in SWAT styley and arrested someone having their lunch.

Out on bail till next week and preparing to make a lot of very bad PR for BT and the Police….

So just goes to show if you use anything other than Firefox or IE and you rely on someone else to interogate access logs or IDS logs you too could be sitting in a paper suit in a cell 🙁

If this is true – if the Police truly are undertaking that sort of behaviour at the merest behest of Sys-Admins who evidently lack any manner of clue – then both the Admins and the Police deserve to be held to public account, and further it makes me deeply concerned about the latest ideas coming out of the Home Office.

“You typed the word “IRA” into Google. You’re under arrest for terrorist offences.”

“That’s my name, “Ira” – Ira Berkowicz…”

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