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FBI Dad's Misadventures With Spyware Exposed School Principal's Child Porn 346

Posted by Soulskill
from the lesson-learned-always-spy-on-your-kids dept.
nonprofiteer writes "This is a crazy story. An FBI agent put spyware on his kid's school-issued laptop in order to monitor his Internet use. Before returning the laptop to the school, he tried to wipe the program (SpectorSoft's eBlaster) by having FBI agents scrub the computer and by taking it to a computer repair shop to be re-imaged. It somehow survived and began sending him reports a week later about child porn searches. He winds up busting the school principal for child porn despite never getting a warrant, subpoena, etc. The case was a gift-wrapped present, thanks to spyware. A judge says the principal has no 4th Amendment protection because 1. FBI dad originally installed spyware as a private citizen not an officer and 2. he had no reasonable expectation of privacy on a computer he didn't own/obtained by fraud."
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FBI Dad's Misadventures With Spyware Exposed School Principal's Child Porn

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  • by TWX (665546) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:30PM (#42145893)
    ...the spyware surviving a cleaning by a computer repair shop and the FBI...
    • by Synerg1y (2169962) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:34PM (#42145977)
      It was left on deliberately in an attempt to spy on random U.S. citizens and collect data.

      Or.. or... The computer repair shop doesn't know what they're doing

      My money's on it's something like this [theregister.co.uk]
    • by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:36PM (#42146021) Journal

      This has restored my faith in the capabilities of the FBI /sarcasm

    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:49PM (#42146229)

      Keep in mind this wasn't exactly the computer specialist division of the FBI, considering he had to take it to a computer repair shop to get them to fix it. TFA says he asked his colleagues, without knowing anything more I'd assume they don't work in the "cybercrime" division. So more like it survive cleaning by some random individuals and a probably-incompetent computer repair shop (Geek Squad or similar, they probably thinking knowing how to use regedit makes them computer "experts".) The FBI as an organization was completely uninvolved.

      • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:16PM (#42148475) Homepage

        A group operating in the FBI that is supposed to know something about computers is CART - Computer Assist Response Team. Now I happen to know that if you take a computer to someone in CART and want them to do something like this it will certainly happen - in about six months when they have a few moments.

        The backlog of high priority prosecutions is that deep.

        So, do you think this guy got the full attention of someone within the FBI that knew what they were doing for more than two minutes? I doubt it. I don't care if he is in the FBI - there are lots of people in the FBI and most of them don't count for much when compared against current work that someone is waiting for. Sending people to jail is always more important than fixing some colleague's computer.

    • by asmkm22 (1902712)

      Why in the world did the FBI even have to get a repair shop involved in the first place? Was the task of reimaging a computer truly that daunting for them?

    • by icebike (68054) * on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:00PM (#42146443)

      ...the spyware surviving a cleaning by a computer repair shop and the FBI...

      Pretty astounding, when you consider he knew what he installed and it comes with de-install directions [spectorsoft.com].
      Quoting the FAQ:

      Tamper-Proof Technology
      eBLASTER does not show up as an icon, does not appear in the Windows system tray, does not appear in Windows Programs, does not show up in the Windows task list, cannot be uninstalled without the eBLASTER password YOU specify, and eBLASTER does not slow down the operation of the computer it is recording. eBLASTER does not initiate connections to the Internet and will only forward email and send activity reports when the monitored computer is already connected to the Internet. All of these features make it extremely difficult for unauthorized users to locate and/or remove eBLASTER.

      Re-imaging the computer from original installation media should have done it, but I suspect that the shop he took it to did not have
      that media, or the Certificate and wasn't about to use their own copy, and simply removed the user account.

      I can see the FBI not wanting to waste their time and resources on what was his personal project, and sent him to a private shop.
      Good on them if that's how it went down.

      But the guy running that private shop might be open to a civil suit by the principal.

      • Just because he works for the FBI doesn't mean he is computer literate. The majority of them are nothing more than federally paid beat cops doing missing persons investigations and helping out when other LE can't do the investigation themselves. I think you and others are giving him too much credit because he works for a three letter government agency.
        • by icebike (68054) *

          Just because he works for the FBI doesn't mean he is computer literate. The majority of them are nothing more than federally paid beat cops doing missing persons investigations and helping out when other LE can't do the investigation themselves. I think you and others are giving him too much credit because he works for a three letter government agency.

          My post suggested that even Joe Sixpack should be able to uninstall what he installed, given that the directions are included with
          the product and on the product's web site.

          However.....
          FBI agents are far from beat cops. The requirements state [fbijobs.gov] that you must possess a four-year degree from a college or university accredited by one of the regional or national institutional associations recognized by the United States Secretary of Education. You must have at least three years of professional work experience. Y

      • by frostfreek (647009) on Friday November 30, 2012 @05:56PM (#42148139)

        I can't figure out why Windows lets a program remove itself from the list of programs in the task list. WTF!

        I wonder if windows fudges the task list CPU numbers to add up to 100%?

    • Before returning the laptop to the school, he tried to wipe the program (SpectorSoft's eBlaster) by having FBI agents scrub the computer and by taking it to a computer repair shop to be re-imaged. It somehow survived

      This kind of incompetence is absolutely baffling to me. Putting SW into a computer that you don't know how to remove? Being unable to remove it by wiping a disk (while working at FBI to boot)? Being unable to pick a repair shop that can actually image disks? Not making an image in the first place before you put something you don't know how to remove? I'm stunned.

    • I thought maybe it was in firmware but that doesn't explain how it phoned home.

    • by dbet (1607261)
      I'm trying to wrap my brain around how a principal could be so stupid. It's a public computer that gets passed around. I wouldn't look at *regular* porn on that thing. Nor would I visit a banking web site (yes it's HTTPS, but boot keyloggers exist).
  • Fraud? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrLint (519792) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:31PM (#42145913) Journal

    Shouldn't the shop that supposedly "re-imaged" it busted for fraud? One also might wonder why an FBI agent is using internal FBI resources to "scrub" a non FBI machine that isn't part of an investigation. Finally, these morons don't know about DBAN???

    • Re:Fraud? (Score:5, Funny)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:37PM (#42146037) Homepage

      Finally, these morons don't know about DBAN???

      No, but they seem to be experts at DBAG. :-P

    • These programs are malware and spyware and use the same methods to stay on as virii. The difference is they are legit so AV programs do not flag them. It could hide in the boot record as a trojan or hide in a restore point and be later re-installed when a user uses it. My guess is the IT team at the school simple uses restore as a quick and efficient way to wipe it before the student received it.

      • These programs are malware and spyware and use the same methods to stay on as virii.

        You mean, they hide in you spellchecker, occasionally causing it to malfunction?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      DBAN is not foolproof. Just the other day I started it up, and the kernel didn't register my hard drive. Started happily erasing my boot stick, and I never would have realized the difference had I not been paying attention.

      (Had to go tweak the BIOS a little)

    • Re:Fraud? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:51PM (#42146277)

      He didn't use internal FBI resources, hence the computer repair shop. He asked his friends at the FBI if they knew how to clear the laptop. They didn't, so he took it to the shop. That's hardly using FBI resources (the summary is more than a little misleading).

      Agreed on the shop, they sound pretty incompetent.

    • by sjames (1099)

      One also might wonder why an FBI agent is using internal FBI resources to "scrub" a non FBI machine that isn't part of an investigation

      Because it wasn't a big deal? Because he wanted it done right and mistakenly thought the FBI could get it done? For all we know, a tech he knew did it after hours.

      I think the much larger concern is that the result wasn't a completely wiped laptop.

    • by MNNorske (2651341)
      You've never had a coworker ask you for help with something they can't figure out? It happens all the time around here, had many a non-techie bring in a laptop that needs a little TLC and someone will do it over their lunch or bring it home and do it. In the case of the FBI folks doing this they could even have been using it as a training opportunity for a rookie tech.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Phroggy (441)

      Shouldn't the shop that supposedly "re-imaged" it busted for fraud? One also might wonder why an FBI agent is using internal FBI resources to "scrub" a non FBI machine that isn't part of an investigation. Finally, these morons don't know about DBAN???

      I've been a Slashdotter for 15 years and I had never heard of DBAN until reading your comment and Googling it. Your other two points are pretty solid, though. What the hell happened?

      • Re:Fraud? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:18PM (#42146691)

        I work for the FBI, and while I am not familiar with this incident, I'm pretty sure there will be some administrative inquiry into misuse of gov't time & resources, especially since it has made us look bad in the press. I'll have to wait for the next quarterly report on ethic violations (which are always hilarious to read, some people are fucking idiots).

        • What misuse of gov't time & resources are you talking about?

          He installed the software himself on his kid's loaner notebook to keep track of his kid's activity (you see, the FBI guy is also some kid's daddy, and he wants to know in case somebody solicits his kid in a chatroom).

          Then he asked a buddy at work if he knew how to remove the software before returning the notebook to the school; apparently Joe didn't know, so he brought it to a local computer repair shop and asked them to do it for (his own) cas

      • Re:Fraud? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:28PM (#42146867) Homepage Journal

        Shouldn't the shop that supposedly "re-imaged" it busted for fraud? One also might wonder why an FBI agent is using internal FBI resources to "scrub" a non FBI machine that isn't part of an investigation. Finally, these morons don't know about DBAN???

        I've been a Slashdotter for 15 years and I had never heard of DBAN until reading your comment and Googling it.

        Yea, but do you run a computer repair shop?

        If not, it's fair to assume you've never heard of DBAN; however, if your income is based in an industry for whom re-imaging computers is standard practice, having not heard of DBAN is a nigh unforgivable offense (and a damn good reason to avoid your shop in the future).

    • Re:Fraud? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @05:34PM (#42147799)

      They might well understand about DBAN. However, this is what I think happened. The last paragraph is most important.

      Something like this is likely as not what happened:

      FBI dad is sent to "Saipan in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands", an FBI office with three agents and a manager. FBI dad installs spyware on kid's school computer. FBI dad is transferred to new location. He goes to his friends in the local FBI office and asks them to scrub the computer. Either A) there aren't any FBI computer experts in Saipan (quite possible), or the local expert says, "I can wipe it, and I could run the restore software, but there's software on there the school installed that I don't have the disks or licenses for. Take it to a local laptop shop."

      FBI Dad takes it to the local shop and says, "I want it restored to what it was like when my kid got it", or "I want you to wipe all my kids info off this laptop", or something similar. They say, "We'll do our best." They have the same problem the FBI expert has. If they DBAN the drive, they could destroy the restore partition, and they won't be able to reinstall the school-installed software. If they run the restore partition, the laptop is like it was before the school got it, and they still won't be able to reinstall the school-installed software. So, they remove all personal data and uninstall all software they think the school didn't install. Maybe they spot the spyware and think it is school installed, maybe they don't spot it, maybe they spot it and try to uninstall it, but instead of uninstalling it hides.

      Regardless, they remove what they can without destroying the school-installed software and return it to FBI dad. He returns it to the school. Hilarity ensues.

      Slashdot readers read a non-technical report on what happened, written by a non-technical writer, who got his information from non-technical reports made by yet more non-technical people, treats it as if the entire report is completely accurate and all technical terms used correctly, and more hilarity ensues.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:32PM (#42145935)

    So let me guess: the guys's name is Stan, the kid's name is Steve and the principal is called Brian?

    • Wrong agency (it would have to be CIA to get the hat trick.)

      Good call anyway - American Dad was the first effing thing I thought of when I read TFA.

  • So now, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:34PM (#42145965)

    Every law enforcement parent will install spyware on his kids' school computers and "forget" to remove the spy software.

    • Re:So now, (Score:4, Insightful)

      by poofmeisterp (650750) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:45PM (#42147085) Journal

      Every law enforcement parent will install spyware on his kids' school computers and "forget" to remove the spy software.

      Wait for the decision in the case. That will say what will or will not happen.

      Given your assumption (which is a good one), law enforcement will suddenly declare that nearly ALL findings of anything related to ANYTHING illegal (child porn, money laundering, pro-terrorist crap, some LE's wife cheating on him, etc) were due to "accidental placement and failed removal" of spyware.

  • Two stories here (Score:2, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802)

    The story enclosed within this one is that (a) the FBI is unable to effectively scrub FBI spyware installed by an FBI agent, and (b) the computer repair shop charged an FBI agent to scrub and reimage a laptop, and then apparently just moved it from the To Do shelf to the Done shelf.

    ...or, that's just what they WANTED you to believe...

    • Re:Two stories here (Score:5, Informative)

      by dinfinity (2300094) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:49PM (#42146253)

      Yes, that or the submitter deliberately misquoted the article:
      "Auther first took the laptop to his FBI office and asked his colleagues how to wipe it clean. Apparently they don’t have many cyber experts in the Mariana Islands, because they were unsuccessful. So Auther had to instead take it to a computer repair shop, which cleaned out the old files and allegedly reimaged the hard drive to return it to its original settings."

      Sounds to me like there wasn't any professional FBI 'scrubbing' involved, just some guy going to work and talking about wiping a laptop by the water cooler.

    • by MNNorske (2651341) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:58PM (#42146413)
      Most laptops these days have a recovery image on a separate partition of the hard drive. It would not be beyond belief that the spyware the agent used injected itself into the recovery partition so it would re-install itself. My guess is that this particular agent was not a technical expert himself and probably just asked a coworker who was technical what he could use to monitor his child's use of the computer. When he handed the machine off to someone to restore it he may not have told them exactly what he put on it, and if they then used the recovery partition, well... you have this scenario.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        > Most laptops these days have a recovery image on a separate partition of the hard drive. It would not be beyond belief that the spyware the agent used injected itself into the recovery partition so it would re-install itself.

        Nod. In fact, it would be rather silly for a spyware developer to *not* do this.

  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:35PM (#42146001) Homepage

    I was originally going to post that TFA makes it clear that this was a case of a person who happened to be employed by the FBI, finding himself in this situation, but is just described by TFS as "an FBI agent" — it made me wonder whether someone should be defined by their employer.

    It rather broke down for me when TFA starts saying how he got "all flashy with his FBI badge" to investigate, rather than just reporting it to the police — is this really still just someone acting as a father?

    • by Ixokai (443555) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:46PM (#42146189)

      Read TFA -- the Judge made a note of this. The initial report that he got was just him as a father: after that what he was doing was basically being an FBI agent. *However* even though he was, the fact that the computer was essentially stolen meant the guy had no expectation of privacy for it. anyways.

    • It's sort of like an off-duty cop who happens to be in a store when it's robbed and takes action as a police officer. His initial being there is just part of being a citizen. Once the robbery started, he made the shift from citizen to law enforcement as would be expected even though he's off-duty.

  • by alen (225700) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:36PM (#42146003)

    the prinicipal was a moron for using a school computer. if it was his own computer then a search warrant would apply.

  • with no warrant (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    a cop kicks a door in and finds pot.

    Cop to judge: "I did it as a private citizen!"

    Judge: "Ok then. This is admissible."

    So, I wonder what would happen to me if I shot that cop busting down my door as a "private citizen"?

    It doesn't matter anyway. When it comes to child porn, taxes, drugs or terrorism, you are guilty until proven innocent. Where are the Ben Franklin dressed Teapartiers? Why aren't they out there preaching their message about freedom over this erosion of our liberties? Or it folks are so afraid

    • Re:with no warrant (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:04PM (#42146523)

      Kicking in a door is illegal as a private citizen and is not something you would expect a private citizen to do. Installing software to monitor his kid's activities is something perfectly legal and well within the realm of what a private citizen might be expected to do. As with many laws, there's a gray area that you have to actually use your brain to determine if something is reasonable or not. There's no slippery slope no matter how much you tilt your head.

      • Kicking in a door is illegal as a private citizen and is not something you would expect a private citizen to do. Installing software to monitor his kid's activities is something perfectly legal and well within the realm of what a private citizen might be expected to do. As with many laws, there's a gray area that you have to actually use your brain to determine if something is reasonable or not. There's no slippery slope no matter how much you tilt your head.

        Slight problem with that explanation - it wasn't his laptop, it was the schools.

        What's the "legal grey area" answer for installing malware on someone else's machine?

        • Re:with no warrant (Score:4, Insightful)

          by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Friday November 30, 2012 @05:02PM (#42147335)

          What's the "legal grey area" answer for installing malware on someone else's machine?

          There is none, installing software on a school-provided laptop is legal. At most it is breach of contract if the school has a policy against it, but that is a civil matter.

          If there was intent to damage or to spy on someone other than the child, that would be a different matter.

      • Re:with no warrant (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MacDork (560499) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @12:25AM (#42152097) Journal

        Installing software to monitor his kid's activities is something perfectly legal and well within the realm of what a private citizen might be expected to do.

        If the principal had installed spyware, that would be a problem. [slashdot.org] Oh, but it's a private citizen installing spyware on someone elses hardware... oh wait, that's definitely not cool either. [slashdot.org]

        It seems the only reason this parent isn't getting a visit from the FBI is because he *is* the FBI. If the guy is installing spyware, he could have remotely installed the porn. The spyware itself could have been the delivery mechanism for all sorts of nasty stuff. He certainly had the means, all he would need is a motive. How do we know the guy didn't have a personal vendetta with the principal? But it doesn't matter... because the principal has already been ruined. Yaaaay! Let's all burn another witch!!

    • Re:with no warrant (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:09PM (#42146587) Homepage Journal
      In this case the fact is that the guy was an FBI agent was just a random happenstance. Equipment that he did not own was used for illegal activity. It is like if one was borrowing a school bus to transport drugs on the assumption that no one would suspect a school bus. Does the FBI need permission from you to inspect the school bus owned by the school? I wouldn't think so. If a kid were being raped in a classroom, would the cops need probably cause or the rapist permission to enter? No, it is a school, they can enter. I suppose we would be defending the rapist for shooting a teacher who entered the classroom to see what the commotion is?

      I try to be very careful about what I use other's equipment for. When I was younger I was less careful about computers, but then when i was younger there was not 10 years of ruling saying that there is no expectation for privacy if you use employers stuff. For instance, is there anything to stop your employer from listening to your telephone calls on phones the employer owns and pays for the operations. Not really. So we bring cell phones to work that we pay for completely. There is no ambiguity if an employer taps a personal phone.

      Stories like this are important because it reminds us that using things we don't own for questionable purposes is not really such a good idea. Clearly older people, who grew up in a time maybe when assets were not tracked as carefully as they are today, or younger people who have not learned how carefully things can be tracked, need to hear this lesson. Clearly some believe that that you can steal equipment, use it for illegal activity, and still deserve the full protection of the law.

  • can't wipe a disk? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sebastopol (189276) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:37PM (#42146043) Homepage

    FBI agents AND a computer repair shop couldn't wipe a disk?

    Not buying it.

    • by Ixokai (443555) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:48PM (#42146221)

      Not all FBI agents are computer wizzes. TFA said that the office he was in had no computer crimes unit which is where the computer wizzes congregate.

      And it surprises you that a computer repair shop might not actually do what they say they are going to? Really?

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      Could be that the spyware is really, really well-designed. Some sort of boot sector thing, perhaps?

      If the spyware was designed to be difficult to remove, and nobody was looking for it, it wouldn't be surprising that it survived something that removes most software.

    • by Vicarius (1093097)
      The guy who failed to wipe the computer probably got a new promotion, precisely because of his highly valuable skill of not being able to wipe a computer while saying he did it.
  • *puts on sunglasses* ... a cold dish.

  • by Sydin (2598829) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:39PM (#42146089)
    I won't lie: any day one of these child porn scumbags is caught is a good day. Even so, the story makes no sense. The FBI doesn't know how to remove Spyware? Any technician worth their salt would run DBAN and that would be the end of it. Yet the FBI went though what sounds like a two step process to wipe this thing, yet failed? I'm not buying it. At the same time though, I have no idea why this guy would have any reason to suspect that the principle would immediately start using his son's laptop upon return, nor any reason to think he was looking at child porn. This story is such a hodgepodge of plausible and impossible... I need a freaking drink.
    • by iggymanz (596061) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:48PM (#42146207)

      we're talking about the FBI in Saipan, the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands. no surprise they wouldn't be cyber experts nor have one, and that the parent would just take a school's laptop to a computer shop for a wipe before returning it to school. not a government computer, not U.S. government concern.

    • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:53PM (#42146313)

      I won't lie: any day one of these child porn scumbags is caught is a good day.

      But the real question is... are you super mega anti-child porn?

    • by Ixokai (443555) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:58PM (#42146417)

      "The FBI" is not a monolithic thing.

      He didn't take it to an FBI technician-- if he did, it'd probably have been cleaned up tight and fast. He took it into his office, where TFA says *they don't have cyber guys*. I.e., he's in some dingy little office without a cyber crimes unit. This doesn't sound implausible at all, the guy's in an FBI office across the Pacific in a US territory, not in Los Angeles.

      Then he took it in to a local computer repair shop, and it doesn't at all sound implausible to me that they might have fibbed on just what they did. Instead of re-imagining it, they may have just done a quick scrub of the user settings.

      "The FBI" didn't go through a two step process. A guy who is also an FBI agent went through a two step process. Not everything an FBI agent does is with the full force and resources of The FBI.

    • By your logic, every single nurse where I work should be an IT expert just because we also have an IT department. Oh wait, while they might talk to other nurses in their department about a non-work computer they probably won't bring it to the IT department to look at? How bout that, not everyone in an organization with an IT department happens to work in the IT department.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:42PM (#42146129) Homepage

    > by having FBI agents scrub the computer and by taking it
    > to a computer repair shop to be re-imaged.

    wow..... um.... I am really curious as to how it did this. Something smells fishy. I can understand it surviving a "scrub", since anyone who does systems work should know that there are many places in a modern os to hide, and unless you know exactly what it does and how it hides, its impossible to say for sure a system has been cleaned.

    However, the pc shop? maybe they didn't really "re-image" it, but instead did their own quick "scrub" and ran something like sysprep?

    Otherwise maybe they just did a reinstall from a hidden factory reinstall partition? I could see something hiding up in there but....

    I dunno, it seems like it HAS to be something along one of those lines. Aside from that...if it really was incidental...well.... accidents do happen, and sometimes they end up biting the best possible people.

    In any case, I think the circumstances do sound fishy, and in no way should what he caught excuse what he did if it wasn't accidental, so there should be serious investigation into that too....but I could see that just turning up technical incompetence rather than malfeasance....

    That is, unless it turns up fraud on the part of the PC Repair shop.... very likely they did not do the job they were paid to do.

  • Some Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

    by PuckSR (1073464) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:49PM (#42146231)

    The "FBI" didn't wipe his computer. He simply asked his co-workers for some help. Apparently neither he nor they were particularly tech-savvy so he took it to a computer shop. He probably asked the shop owner to remove "all of my kid's games and stuff". I imagine that this spyware tries to mask itself so that kids cant just find it and uninstall it. The shop owner probably just uninstalled all of the "games and stuff" and then returned it.

    The problem is that a person who was so confused by removing software that he had to go to a "computer shop" is trying to tell you what he did. He didn't get the FBI to clean the machine, he simply asked his co-workers who didn't know either. This also happened in Saipan, not New Jersey. The FBI has a small office, not a high tech lab.

    The FBI agent screwed up by not notifying authorities immediately(he tried to solve the case himself), but he was probably concerned that the evidence wouldn't hold up in court. Lucky for everyone, the Judge seems like he was willing to stretch the letter of the law to punish a clearly guilty man.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:11PM (#42146613)
    All newly sold computers in the United States will actually be pre-owned by FBI agents' family members. Full story at eleven.
  • Everyone seems to be assuming at least one of two things: 1. That the FBI is lying about not knowing how to remove software. 2. That the computer repair shop he took it to lied and didn't do the work. While both are possible, they aren't the only explanations. First of all, not every member of the FBI is an IT professional. They probably have plenty of tech-illiterate employees in their ranks. I have met a lot of people that are geniuses when it comes to their own trade but are absolutely helpless t

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