Solaris + Lynx + Tsunami Relief Donation == Terrorist?!?!?!?!?

There is a story at Boing Boing that should raise a few concerns. The story is also being "covered" by BBC

Let's look at the stories. First from Boing Boing.

Jailed for using a nonstandard browser

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 :(

The BBC story is boggling.

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.

Good to see the beeb not allowing facts to get in the way of a good story, let alone even minimal research! They've already convicted him!

I wonder how far the Police have got "examining computer equipment seized during a search". I suppose that because it's not windows it must be something that a terrorist might use.

The actions appear completely out of proportion here. The only word I can find at this point is "Amazing".

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* - Solaris and Network Domain, Technical Support Centre


Alan is a kernel and performance engineer based in Australia who tends to have the nasty calls gravitate towards him

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