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Security Games

The Trap Set By the FBI For Half Life 2 Hacker 637

eldavojohn writes "You might remember the tiny news that Half Life 2 source code was leaked in 2003 ... it is the 6th most visited Slashdot story with over one kilocomment. Well, did anything happen to the source of the leak, the German hacker Axel 'Ago' Gembe? Wired is reporting he was offered a job interview so that Valve could get him into the US and bag him for charges. It's not the first time the FBI tried this trick: 'The same Seattle FBI office had successfully used an identical gambit in 2001, when they created a fake startup company called Invita, and lured two known Russian hackers to the US for a job interview, where they were arrested.'"
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The Trap Set By the FBI For Half Life 2 Hacker

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  • a fun bit of trivia (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Digitus1337 ( 671442 ) <> on Thursday November 13, 2008 @07:40PM (#25754725) Homepage
    So many people heard that the Half Life 2 engine source code was taken, that they started referring to the engine as the "source engine", and it's been known by that name ever since.
  • by eison ( 56778 ) <pkteison@hotma i l . c om> on Thursday November 13, 2008 @07:45PM (#25754799) Homepage

    Why not?

  • by sampson7 ( 536545 ) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @07:53PM (#25754897)
    One of my favorite law stories ever:

    The judges in the small county I used to work in (Charles County, MD) were notoriously tough on cocaine dealers. The neighboring jurisdiction was so overwhemled with drugs that drug dealers in that county were typically given much lighter sentences. The disparity was so great that smart dealers refused to deal in Charles County. Instead, they would arrange deals next to the border without actually ever crossing into Charles Co.

    So when the Charles County Sheriff's Office wanted to mount a major drug sting, they moved the "Welcome to Charles County" sign back a hundred feet or so, and would arrange deals just across the border. We put away a lot of bad people for a long time. Brilliant.

    Um... Yeah. I have no problem with this.
  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @07:55PM (#25754917)

    Well, just before 09/11, the FBI retasked most of their anti-terror team to work on copyright. Says something about their priorities. Or rather, the priorities of those in charge of their budget.

  • by Derkec ( 463377 ) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @07:56PM (#25754927)

    If you are wanted for a crime in some country, you should avoid:
    1) Going to that country
    2) Going to countries with extradition agreements with that country

    If you are dumb enough to go to the country, you deserve to be arrested.

    How would I feel if someone tricked dumb American criminals into getting arrested? Pretty good. We could use less criminals on the streets. Feel free.

    This isn't exactly a civil rights issue.

  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Thursday November 13, 2008 @08:01PM (#25755003) Homepage Journal
    The dumbass got greedy. Instead of informing valve of the methods of his breach and then securing a high-paying job with them, dumbass done stole the source and then bragged about it and now he's probably being watched 24/7.
  • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) * <> on Thursday November 13, 2008 @08:32PM (#25755333) Homepage

    It depends on where he committed the crime. He's a german citizen commiting a crime in germany (and he was punished for it under german law) then that FBI can GTFO as far as I'm concerned. If they were that bothered they could have applied for extradition rather that using underhand tricks.

    No different from the Dimitri Skylarov case, except he was arrested for something that wasn't even a crime in his home country.

  • by puto ( 533470 ) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @08:35PM (#25755385) Homepage
    Americans get worse treatment in other countries then visitors to the US do when they come here.

    I can say this because I hold citizenship in three countries. And have lived in all three would rather tangle with the american law enforcement then the other two.

    When Michael Fay was caned in Singapore for vandalism, the majority of the USA cheered, because he acted like an ass in another country, and he deserved what he got.

    I had the misfortune of meeting the prick years later, and he almost got caned again with a pool cue.

    But in the US there is a saying. IF you can't do the time, do'nt do the crime.

    Nothing arrogant about the way they were caught.
  • by Jekler ( 626699 ) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @09:08PM (#25755725)
    What makes you think it would be a civil case if the victim of a crime presses charges? A civil case is when the victim asks a civil court for recompense. A criminal case is when criminal charges are brought against the perpetrator. By definition, if the victim is pressing criminal charges, it's a criminal case.

    I'm also not sure how you think law enforcement should work if officers must be honest in pursuing criminals. Asking people if they're a cop before you deal with them would be hugely effective. It rules out any form of undercover work, and it would generally be really difficult to trap the criminals because you'd always have to tell them why you wanted to setup a meeting.

    ::phone rings::
    Drug Dealer: "Hello?"
    Police Officer: "Hi, this is officer Johnson. I'm just making a courtesy call to let you know I'll be stopping by to inspect your home for drugs. As you know, because of the non-deception act of 2009, an unannounced visit would be dishonest."
    Drug Dealer: "Thanks for the call."

    ::1 hour later an officer knocks on the door::
    Drug Dealer: "Who are you?"
    Police Officer: "I'm officer Jackson. Officer Johnson got a call and couldn't make it so he sent me in his place to do the inspection."
    Drug Dealer: "I call deception! I was told officer Johnson would be doing the inspection! That's a violation of my right to not be deceived!"
  • Coca Farmers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CustomDesigned ( 250089 ) <> on Thursday November 13, 2008 @09:50PM (#25756107) Homepage Journal

    Coca tea is natural and healthful, containing a tiny, tiny amount of cocaine. The original Coca-Cola was coca tea, cola, sugar, and carbonation. (The modern version is decocainized - similar to decaffeinating.) It is only because people refine the cocaine into a pure form that it becomes dangerously addictive. And then some criminally selfish people sell the cocaine on the street to extract money from people now controlled by the chemical.

    IMO, they should decriminalize all "natural" drugs, from peyote to green mulberries to marijuana to coca leaf to opium to frogs, and keep the synthetic and refined stuff (LSD, meth, heroine, cocaine, etc) by prescription only (and recreation is not a reason for a prescription).

    I know two people who blew their brains on drugs. The "drug" was nutmeg (in large doses). Our street is littered with mulberries (unripe mulberries are hallucinogenic). Marijuana grows on the police station lawn as a weed (Fairfax, VA). Attempting to control everyday natural products is just insane - and just leads to police arresting whomever they please.

    "You are under arrest for possession of marijuana."
    [click][click]"Thought you could grow it in your front lawn without us noticing, did you?"
    Thinks, "Damn, forgot the broadleaf killer again..."

  • by Toll_Free ( 1295136 ) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @09:57PM (#25756181)

    You are exactly right.

    My X wife thought marijuana was the SCOURGE of the world, because of her parents and DARE.

    Then she realized she married someone that dallied in Marijuana use (medically and socially at times) and was FLOORED.

    She almost divorced me over it, then realized, it didn't change the person she married, nor was it as bad as she thought.

    Then she turned her angst towards DARE and her parents for lying ot her for so long.

    BUT, the finality is this: She didn't have a problem with me using Marijuana medically, since in my state it is LEGAL. Her parents did, but they are idiots. She had a problem with ANYONE that did it that it wasn't medically excused because it IS ILLEGAL.

    So yeah, some people are turned off enough just by the legality of it, and not the physical substance itself.


  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Thursday November 13, 2008 @10:05PM (#25756273) Journal

    Where are the studies saying it didn't.

    Pick up a history book sometime. You might learn something.


  • by qbzzt ( 11136 ) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @10:17PM (#25756375)

    Sorry for jumping on you here, but I think that the way your post is expressed - implying that a corporate taxpayer deserves representation - is a dangerous subversion of democracy.

    It's a dangerous subversion of democracy, but it's also the real situation in the US(1). The CEO of Chrysler has as much voting power of a single welfare recipient. To whom do you think elected officials listen?

    Besides, while corporations don't have votes, they do have employees. I'd be reluctant to vote for a candidate whose policies will hurt IBM. When your employer suffers, you usually suffer too.

    (1) Arguably, it's also the system working as designed. Many of thhe founding fathers were scared of democracy, and much preferred an aristocratic republic on the Roman model.

  • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @10:23PM (#25756441)

    He DIDN'T commit the crime! RTFA!!!

    He told others that he got into valve, said others figured out how he did it and stole the code.

  • by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @11:26PM (#25756909)

    Even if it were illegal, the rules for dealing with wanted criminals are different than the rules for common citizens. For one thing, the police are allowed to arrest and lock up wanted criminals with no further provocation.

    There's always the classic police scam where they mail a prize notice ("You have won a new boat!") to suspects' last known address. Then they arrest everyone who comes through the front door. Nabs a lot of criminals. This was even parodied on The Simpsons, but has a basis in reality.

    It would be illegal, or at the very least a tort, to do this sort of thing to a normal citizen. But if there's a warrant out for your arrest, you're supposed to go to jail. If you don't turn yourself in then you are essentially fair game for the police \.

  • by ub3r n3u7r4l1st ( 1388939 ) * on Thursday November 13, 2008 @11:41PM (#25756981)

    Posting fake job advertisement or resume solicitation is a common tactic nowadays.

    If I am the boss and the people are not acting right, what I will do is post a resume solicitation and setup interviews, even though I do not have openings. People will soon hear, see and smell a large incoming of resumes and "prospective employees" coming in and out for interview and scared to death. This is a very good trick to increase productivity.

  • by Pearson ( 953531 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @12:03AM (#25757121)
    "The article mentions that this trap failed. Apparently he suspected something."

    If I recall correctly, the German authorities got wind of what the feds were going to do and took the hacker into custody instead.
  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @12:03AM (#25757123)

    Wasting money protecting source code after the event
    In the US practically all law enforcement is after the event. Even if the police are standing right there, the criminals actually have to actually start doing whatever or seriously look like they're about to. There's almost no proactive arrests. Do you really want the FBI/cops to arrest people BEFORE they commit crimes? There was a silly Tom Cruise movie with this premise that you might find mildly amusing, but not for normal theft and whatnot crimes. That's why it's such a huge deal to make an exception for people plotting terrorism to be proactively arrested/detained. It isn't the normal course of things.

  • by Zencyde ( 850968 ) <> on Friday November 14, 2008 @12:09AM (#25757155)
    Wouldn't being tried in US courts after being tried in German courts be a form of double jeopardy? Isn't that unconstitutional? I hope someone at the FBI gets fired over this BS.
  • by Toll_Free ( 1295136 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @12:19AM (#25757221)

    OK, MDMA was given to people as a mood elevator in the 70s and 80s.

    MDMA is a methamphetamine derived chemical. There is (if memory serves me well enough) either 2 or 3 differences in the chain.

    They also DID prescribe methamphetamine as a mood elevator, as well as a brochiodilator.

    Methamphetamine was given to our troops in Viet Nam. A good friend of mine actually has a bottle of it (the empty bottle, the contents where LONG ago consumed). His argument for having it is: I'm a methamphetamine addict. I had never touched it, nor heard of it, until Viet Nam. My government gave me pretty much all I wanted then. So, they gave me the FUCKING habit. Should I ever be arrested, this is a DAMNING piece of evidence. I don't think he would do very well, but it still serves as evidence of Methamphetamine ABuse from our government in the 60s / 70s.

    Matter of fact, Methamphetamine is STILL legally prescribed in the United States. It's used for SEVERE obesity as well as narcolepsy. VERY few people get it for ADD/HD as well.

    Cocaine? Yup, we have that as well. Most opthamology shops set up for surgery (not your basic eyeglasses plus type place, or julios lasic clinic, but REAL eye surgeons), they get Cocaine. It's one of, if not the only anesthetic used IN the eyeball.

    Coca Cola ALSO STILL uses Coca in their drink. The Coca BASE (which is cocaine, after refining) is whisked away for no apparent reason (I'd say, more than likely, for the production of legal cocaine, for eye dox, but I'm sure they don't say for security reasons) is brought to the states. Matter of fact, Coca Cola Bottling is the BIGGEST single purchaser of Coca in the world.

    Care to anonymously talk about this some more? I tend to know a bit more than the average idiot about drugs, drug use, pharmacology, and the such. Growing up in one of the largest methamphetamine production towns in the world during the 80s kinda does that for ya.


  • A Matter of Trust (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jeko ( 179919 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @12:52AM (#25757387)
    Here's the issue -- We want to trust our law enforcement officers. We take their word above anyone else's in a court of law. We don't want to think of them as liars. I'm uncomfortable when I see stings like this because when I see it, it forces me to acknowledge that the police are liars -- and that gets worrisome fast. If they're willing to lie here, if they say the ends justify the means here, then where else are they willing to bend the truth? That's why juries originally rejected the use of undercover officers until TV made it seem ordinary.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14, 2008 @01:19AM (#25757545)

    Hmm.. This gives me an idea...

    1. GOTO international waters.
    2. Start hacking.
    3. ???
    4. Profit.

    Somebody had to say it...

  • by rmdashrf ( 1338183 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @01:41AM (#25757649)

    The point wasn't whether the act itself was illegal or legal, it was about the question if someone who committed a crime in country A which causes damages in country B, should be tried in country B.

    I agree that if this guy broke the law he should be prosecuted. Only by the country where the crime is committed, otherwise you leave loopholes open like the example I gave.

    If a party in country B has damages, they can go through the legal system of country A to claim damages. This just feels like some nationalistic 'We are americans and don't fuck with us' kneejerk reaction. I had hoped that attitude had gone with G.W.

  • Points to consider (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @02:33AM (#25757871)

    On the surface this is a story about somebody that did something he shouldn't have and is punished for it, but I think there are several more important issues here that have nothing to do with the crime itself as such.

    When a person is physcially in one country and commits an offence on a system in another country, who has jurisdiction? I probably lean most to the view that is the country where the offended system is; but there is a trend towards more delocalised systems - as evidenced by the question of where eg. Amazon or Google should pay their taxes. If it isn't clear for your payment of taxes, I can't see that it is any clearer for criminal jurisdiction; after all the criteria for legal proofs are stricter in the criminal court.

    There is also the question of "symmetry" (the right word escapes me at the moment) - when the US feels somebody has committed a crime within their jurisdiction based on the above principle, shouldn't the principle apply the other way? The US wants the world to deliver the people they say are criminals to the US penal system, but it is very hard to get it to work the other way. Even UK, the "special ally", finds it hard to get a US citizen extradited - and even their own citizens, sometimes.

    And then there is the ethics of the situation - is it acceptable to commit a crime, even a very small one, to catch a criminal? The "small crime" in this case is the fraudulent advertising of a non-existent job, it seems. The law - and certainly criminal law - is supposed to be the practical expression of our fundamental, ethical principles; it is illegal to steal, kill, swindle etc because everybody agrees that it is morally wrong, in essence. And as they say, two wrongs don't make a right; if you commit crimes to fight crime, you have tainted yourself and the whole system of justice - and where does the dividing line go? Why is it OK to commit fraud to catch a fairly insignificant hacker, but it isn't OK to take bribes? To my view you are either a criminal or not; and if you commit crimes, you are a criminal.

    As far as I know this kind of thing is not accepted in any other Western country; the are not allowed to use even "mild deception", like a knowingly letting a suspect believe something that isn't true, if it is likely to influence their defence. Which is why you read them their rights when they are arrested, BTW.

  • by rilian4 ( 591569 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @03:03AM (#25757985) Journal

    Don't tell me you actually think that people doing malicious hacking shouldn't be appropriately dealt with by the country whose laws they fucked over by hacking.... I mean, all you'd have to do is go to international waters and you could do all you wanted, to any country you wanted, to any server you wanted, and there would be no retribution.

    In the 1700s, there were men (and a few women) who would do just that(except the server part)...they were called pirates. Many operated in the Caribbean, some at the Barbary Coast...some elsewhere. Generally the navy of whomever they offended would go out and shoot them to stop them.

    The problem for the pirates was that while they could attack anyone...they pretty much were at the mercy of any country they attacked that decided to fight back. The difference with an internet hacker is that they sit nice and protected behind their own country while people steadfastly proclaim "no crime was committed can you dare think to punish them".

    Yes, you file for extradition. But if that doesn't work, what next? The target of these attacks was in the US. Just because the attacker wasn't, doesn't mean he or she should not be punished.

  • Re:Kilocomment? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 14, 2008 @04:45AM (#25758331) Journal

    (A) It was a joke for the geeks,since we do actually know the difference. I also added the crotchety bit and "Get off my lawn" for emphasis. (B) I don't really care WHAT the HDD manufacturers want to measure in,hell they can measure in ramen noodles for all I care, although I do find it odd that until the "race for 1 gigabyte" they actually reported in base 2.

    The problem isn't that,the problem is their damned box labeling! Have you looked for the "its base 10,not base 2" label on a HDD box lately? It has gotten so damned tiny I'm going to have to buy one of those big ass magnifying glasses like they used in WW2 to spot German defense positions from aerial photos just to show that damned label to my customers! If they weren't trying to be sneaky or hide it from the customer,then why not simply put in on the front,right below the main label? Because the last two I bought had it in print that even with my 20/20 eyesight I had trouble reading and one you had to actually pull a sticker off the box to even read it at all!

    And as one of the earlier posters pointed out it makes NO damned sense! Because we all know that a BYTE is 8 bits,yes? So anything with BYTE in it should be on orders of 8,NOT ten. So the word simply doesn't work. And as another poster pointed out with the Tb range becoming common the difference is really becoming staggering. And now the size has gotten so huge lying to make it sound bigger is kind of pointless. So why not simply label them back into a form that nearly every OS on the planet uses? After all anything over 1Tb is pretty much a shitload of data,whether that shitload be in base 2 or 10.

  • by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @06:26AM (#25758641)

    Going to Amsterdam to smoke weed isn't illegal for UK citizens. There is very little that you cannot go abroad to do (assuming that it's legal in your country of destination).

    I think there are a few crimes that can be prosecuted in the UK even if they were committed in a foreign country (provided that the crime exists in both countries) - I think murder falls into this category (In particular, murder of a spouse while on holiday may well be prosecuted in the UK, particularly if there was no body and the foreign country decided not to prosecute) but for the most part, as a UK citizen you obey UK law in the UK and foreign law in a foreign country.

    Tax law is about the only other thing I can think of where UK law applies to UK citizens abroad (and UK tax law is pretty generous to UK citizens living and working abroad)


  • WTF (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GNUPublicLicense ( 1242094 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @09:35AM (#25759557)
    The FBI is loosing its time and money to track video game crackers?? Is that a joke?? Have they no task more important on their priority list??
  • by smoker2 ( 750216 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @09:49AM (#25759649) Homepage Journal
    If you don't have the guts to do it regardless of the law, then you probably don't have the inner strength to actually make it through the trip without freaking. It's not like riding a roller coaster, where after 30 seconds it's all over. Some trips can keep you going for 12 hours and more. Once you have started freaking, you are stuck with it. You need a very particular kind of attitude to be able to deal with that and not come out a shambling monkey. How much primal animal fear can you handle ? (hint if you're worried about breaking a law, then I'd guess not much) Imagine the very worst thing you can dream up - now amplify it and live through it. The mind is a very powerful thing, and not enough people know their own mind well enough when they're straight let alone when it has assumed the power that LSD can give.
    I've seen big hard men reduced to quivering crying babies after thinking they could handle LSD.
    I'm not saying that if you have the right attitude you won't freak, but when you freak (and everybody does sooner or later) you can handle it. I had to get someone to turn the stereo off once before the song reached a certain line, because I was so immersed that I felt that hearing the line in question was going to kill me. (Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb).
    Remember in the Matrix, Neo asked "if you die inside the Matrix, you die in real life too ?", Morpheus said "The body cannot live without the mind". This is quite possible. If I had been taking acid when the Matrix came out, I would probably never had taken as much as I did. As it happened, I stopped doing LSD a good decade before that film.
    Pro-tip : never trip by yourself, always share the experience with a friend (who is in the same state). Know when to say no. If you have even the slightest fear about doing it - don't do it. That fear is the seed of a Bad Trip. It IS pitch black, and you ARE likely to be eaten by a Grue.
    Beginners tip : just don't. But if you do, get as far away from civilisation as you can before you do it, and enjoy the stars or something. Avoid natural hazards (cliffs, ravines, rivers) and keep your clothes on ! Also, read the pro-tip.

    My final word here is just to stress that hard drug taking is not like a funfair ride. You can't just get off the ride when you feel like it, and it will change you and your life, immediately and for ever more, even after just one trip. You will never be the same person ever again. None of what I just said is related to addiction, just the fallout from the experience. So, ask yourself - Do I feel lucky ?

    Disclaimer : I am not a doctor, I am not your doctor. I post here to redress the imbalance of information between people who think drugs are cool and spout off bullshit, and those who have actually been down that road and survived (just). I will never and have never encouraged anybody to take drugs.
  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @11:16AM (#25760431) Journal

    The US wants the world to deliver the people they say are criminals to the US penal system, but it is very hard to get it to work the other way. Even UK, the "special ally", finds it hard to get a US citizen extradited - and even their own citizens, sometimes.

    This is what extradition treaties are for, to work out details like this (and BTW, if you represent a nation and are working on an extradition treaty with the US, make sure you specifically forbid the US from engaging in "extraordinary rendition", and specify that any violations shall be remedied by, in the least, repatriating the "rendered" suspect. It should go without saying but it doesn't)

    However, there's no issue like that in this case. If someone in the US who has committed a crime in the UK travels there, the UK can arrest and try him and it's all perfectly legal regardless of whether the crime was extraditable or not.

    As far as I know this kind of thing is not accepted in any other Western country; the are not allowed to use even "mild deception", like a knowingly letting a suspect believe something that isn't true, if it is likely to influence their defence. Which is why you read them their rights when they are arrested, BTW.

    Eh? There's a country where the cops can't lie, at all, to suspects? Do you have any references to that?

    In the US they can and do lie about almost anything; there's a few exceptions, like they can't have a prosecutor pretend to be a public defender (which has shown up on TV police procedurals, but I don't know if they've tried it in real life), and they can't threaten extrajudicial punishment to obtain a confession (which alas happens all the time, and the cops just deny it).

  • by muellerr1 ( 868578 ) on Friday November 14, 2008 @11:30AM (#25760577) Homepage
    I was curious, so I looked this up []. It's murky, but apparently if he's been tried and convicted in Germany but won't serve his sentence then he can be tried again in the US. I guess they're arguing that his sentence was too light and should be treated as if he hadn't served his sentence.

    I doubt Germany would have extradited him to the US for this crime since they'd tried him already, but if he goes to the US of his own free will there's no reason he couldn't be arrested and tried again under US law. It sounds like he'd have a good argument to get his case thrown out, though.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"