The controversy, rumours and speculation surrounding the FBI's Magic Lantern tool has attracted ridicule from the internet underground.
Not only has one virus writer constructed a piece of malware under the same name, but now infamous hacker group the Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc) has offered a helping hand to the Feds.
Evidently still grizzled about the fact that its notorious Back Orifice 2K remote control tool was labelled as a malicious program, the cDc is offering its expertise in the area to help the FBI build what would be an almost identical tool.
Reid Fleming, a cDc member, said: "Never before has the US faced a more troublesome enemy. To meet this growing challenge, the FBI has announced an ongoing effort to create and deploy best-of-breed electronic surveillance software.
"While we applaud the innovation and drive of the federal law enforcement agency, those of us who are US citizens would be remiss if we did not offer our expertise in this area."
A tongue in cheek announcement from the group claims that cDc "has more targeted experience than anyone else in this field".
And they're right. Back Orifice would do the Magic Lantern job beautifully. Although the hackers are quite confident that the FBI's Engineering Research Facility is more than capable, cDc intends to re-architect Back Orifice from the ground up.
"There will be absolutely no shared code between the two projects, in order to skirt detection by commercial antivirus packages. The code will remain totally secret. The software will never surface publicly. And it will be far more stealthy than anything we have ever released, demonstrated or publicly discussed," the group said.
Indeed, the central design principle of Magic Lantern and this new breed of Back Orifice could easily be interpreted as "an artificial witness which is capable of intercepting any and all relevant activity during, after and even leading up to the commission of a computer crime", it added.
The cDc concluded that the project would deliver "the ultimate intelligence gathering tool. And we intend to construct it, at no cost, exclusively for the use of the federal government," said Fleming.
"We are confident that the government will limit the use of this technology only to targets relevant to legitimate investigations," he added, further underscoring the cult's faith in federal law enforcement organisations. "The FBI has a long history of following Title 18 to the letter."
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